Shakespeare’s Othello

Othello is a common tragedy.  It is a classic for the fact that it was written by Shakespeare, and it will stay that way regardless of any reviews it gets.  Believed to have been written in 1603, it basically tells the story of how people do not communicate at ALL.  This is the most frustrating part of the whole story, is that it all could have been avoided had people just talked to each other.  However, like many of Shakespeare’s plays, it never ends how you want it to.

Personally, to begin reading the story you may want to educate yourself on simple terminology.  It is written in the language of the time, obviously, so sparknotes will be your best friend.  Find out what stances each character is in that society, for example Othello himself is a Moorish prince living in Venice, Italy and appointed general in the Venetian army.  To truly understand the situation you must understand the society at the time.  Placement of birth class had an effect on a person’s life.  A Moor was a black or Arabian man that came from North Africa at the time of Shakespeare.

Consisting of five acts and much drama, I would recommend the play.  It is crazy.  The opening scene is Roderigo and Iago plotting against Othello.  The audience gets dropped in the middle of a growing disaster.  It is very obvious Iago is the bad guy from the get go, no spoilers.  Desdemona and Othello being married is a problem to the Father of Desdemona, Barbantio, and thus he casts her out of his house.  Rough start, but she just moves in with Othello and then since Othello has to go do general duties Othello places her in the care of Iago.  This is foreshadowing that Desdemona’s future is in Iagos hands, and it is more than the reader or audience knows at this point.  The whole play just explodes and suddenly characters are stabbing other characters and the play is all over the place.  I mean, for real, if Shakespeare got bored i’m pretty sure he just killed characters.

Anyway, I’m not gonna give away spoilers, but it is a pretty cool play.  Good just to know it exists, honestly.  Emilia was my favorite character.  She is Iagos wife and Desdemona’s friend.  She is strong and most definitely shows she has a voice.  I love her because of the part she plays.  Emilia, ultimately, is the truth of the story.  Ironically, she is the villain’s wife.  Desdemona as a character didn’t have much to do with the actual doing of things, she hardly even took up for herself.  It irked me the way she let Othello just walk on her the way she did in Act IV and V.  She did not even really try to understand.  If I keep going on this rant, I will most definitely spoil something.  Shakespeare’s language will get to any reader, it’s difficult to understand, but it is worth the read!

I would give it a good 3.8 out of 5.

Revelation by Flannery O’Connor

Revelation by Falnnery O’Connor published in 1964, the same year O’Connor died, explores societal hierarchy of the time period and what it would take for someone to become self aware of their judgmental thought process that made them hypocritical in the way they live their life.  This exploration mainly pertains to the 1960’s hierarchy a lot of people thought was how everything just ‘worked’, but especially the ‘good christian women’ who thought they were the ones setting the example.  It brought up a questioning of self awareness to the way people are living, and I say that in present tense to highlight the fact that it is still highly relevant today.

The story begins with Mrs. Turpin and her experience in a Doctor’s office because Mr. Turpin was thought to have had an ulcer.  There is a lot of symbolism with her being in a doctor’s office, where people get helped and healed, or atleast the beginning process of it begins.  Then on top of the setting, is the people.  There are about six other characters made relevant to the story, each of a different ‘class’as Mrs. Turpin noticed.  One was white trash, then middle class, then upper middle class.  There was a girl about the age of 18 reading a book about self help of some sort, and she was described to be a very ugly pitiful girl.  Through this girl Mrs. Turpin finally comes to the conclusion that she is wrong in her line of thinking about who is ‘in charge’ of others.  This girl is the standing figure of the ugly truth.  The girl, Mary Grace, is shown to be quite knowledgable as she is reading and attending college. She also is forceful and her eyes are described to be “lit all of a sudden with a peculiar light, an unnatural light
like night road signs give”.  Which is also an indication that she is a driving force of directon that Mrs. Turpin needs to listen to.   Mary Grace attacks Mrs. Turpin by biting and telling her she is a hog.  Hogs, well specifically wart hogs, is symbolism of vigilence and awareness.  These virtues are exactly what Mrs. Turpin needs more of, and in the end she recieves it through them.

By the end of the story, Mrs. Turpin has had a revelation to her life and how she was wrong.  She has a vision from God, and in that vision she saw all of the people she previously thought of as below her all walking up to Heaven.  They were dancing and singing while she and others alike her were all walking behind them.  She realized in this vision that they are equal to her, and she has nothing ‘over’ them.  God thinks equally of them and her and everyone.  She proceedas to walk back toward her house while thinking of what she saw.

I enjoyed this story for the complexity of it, you could either read it and go ‘what the heck’ or you could look deeper and see all of the layers put into the characters and ther growth and progression of each of them.  Now, i wish we could see more od Mrs. Turpin after her revelation to see what it is exactly that she changes, but overall it is a well written story i would recommend.



Quiet by Susan Cane Part I

Your Biology, Your Self?

Nature, Nurture, and Orchid Hypothesis

“Some people are more certain of everything than I am of anything.”- Robert Rubin, In an Uncertain World

In chapters four, five, six, and seven, Cane reveals that introversion and extroversion may be an inborn biological thing.  She reviews a study done by Jerome Kagan at Harvard, and the Orchid Hypothesis by David Dobbs.

Jerome Kagan is an eighty-two year old developmental psychological researcher at Harvard.  One of his many studies have been to see and follow a set of five hundred children at various ages, beginning at four months, and seeing if he can put them through a series of test and determine if they will grow up to be introverts or extroverts.  In these tests they determined the babies that reacted more to the tests, such as balloon popping and tape recorded voices, were going to be introverts.  At the beginning of reading this part I thought it was far fetched and interesting, but did not expect it to be a fruitful experiment.  Little did I know, the scientific findings of this experiment explained why these could determine this dominant trait in babies.  The amygdala of the brain in introverts is more active.  This means shocks such as balloon popping and strange un-tethered voices would be more significant to these babies for real biological reasons- their brains literally react more.  These babies made up twenty percent of the five hundred babies.  The other eighty percent were either not reactive at all,known as low reactive, or simply slightly startled and did not pay any more mind to the sound or new experience.  This means one hundred of these babies were introverts and the other four hundred were hypothesized as extroverts.  This is a pretty large difference in number, and if it is a true measurement of every five hundred only one hundred are introverts- this is a strange image of population scaling.

The Orchid Hypothesis by David Dodds:

“Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.” – David Dobbs

So, in essence, this supports the information previously aquired through the texts of the book.  The books writing style is very factual so this was the first account using imagery or similarity charting to explain the topic better- but this was David Dodds talking and not Susan Cane.  The point of this following Kagan’s experiment is that the intro or extro-version of people are inborn.  They are predetermined, and can be as dominant or recessive as brown and blue eyes in a family.

This part in the book was a strong limb to the argument that introversion and extroversion is a trait pattern ultimately predetermined in humans.

One last quote for the road:

A shy man no doubt dreads the notice of strangers, but can hardly be said to be afraid of them. He may be as bold as a hero in battle, and yet have no self-confidence about trifles in the presence of strangers.”–Charles Darwin

“Talking to the Sun” PT. I ‘Hymn to the Sun’ By Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell

“Many of the first poems known to us are magical chants that praise nature and explain things that people didn’t understand about nature—why the sun rises and sets, for example, or why there is thunder.  Often these chants were intended to bring good fortune— to make crops grow or to bring sunshine or rain.”

The book begins inside of a history vault dating back thousands of years of tribal chants and praises.  This quote kicking off the book explains why and how we have  the topic of nature mostly in old poetry and songs.

‘Hymn to the Sun’ is devoted to showing the basis of poetry, and by that i mean poetry by the first people to verbalize their praise and wonderment unto why things happen the way they do.   Honestly, when i picked this book up i noticed it for vibrancy of the yellow on the spine.  Then i saw the title and immediately thought of Frank O’Hara and Vladimir Mayakovsky— who very famously wrote two conversations with the sun.  O’Hara’s conversation even brings up Mayavosky’s conversation with the Sun.  So, that was my prethought of the book.  Just looking at the cover you can tell the illustration will be beautiful.  What i did not expect was the historical value accompanying these beautiful pieces.  The poetry is a valuable history lesson because it is not by the famous modernist authors everyone knows the name of.  They are by tribes and Egyptians and any old group of people that sang and praised together as a communal event.

The very first poem is called ‘Hymn to the Sun’ by the Fang People, who reside in Africa, and it explains that the sun is a warrior who defeats his enemy every morning, the night.  Describing the fight as “The fearful night sinks…Before your lightning eye and the rapid arrows from your fiery quiver…”

The other poems all have a similar touch point of something to do with explaining the sun, praising the sun, or even explaining thunder.  They take on many different tones ranging from appreciation to fear.

My personal favorite of the 8 poems in this category is one call ‘Song for the Sun that disappeared behind the Rain clouds.’  by the Hottentot people of Africa.

“The fire darkens, the wood turns black,

The flame extinguishes, misfortune upon us.

God sets out in search of the sun.

The rainbow sparkles in his hand,

the bow of the divine hunter.

He has heard the lamentations of his children.

He walks along the milky way, he collects the stars.

With quick arms he piles them into a basket

Piles them up with quick arms

Like a woman who collects lizards

And piles them into her pot, piles them

Until the pot overflows with lizards

Until the basket overflows with light.”

This is roughly translated, and at first in was thinking ‘wait, the milky way?  How did they know about that?!’ and so i did some research and as it turns out, the Greeks named it.  They originally named it Via Lactea, which means Road of Milk, and the Romans were the ones who basically started calling it the Milky Way.  So, along with beautiful images and wonder it provided me with a lesson on the Milky Way.

I would most definitely recommend this read.  Thus far in “Talking to the Sun” i have gotten a lot out of the poems.  The book does provide small sidebar explanations, and that is helpful.  The read is insightful and does kick up curiosity in a pretty enormous way.  So, if you are looking for an educationally exciting read, this book is for you.

The Human Fly by T.C. Boyle

My personal copy of this story was apart of a book of T.C. Boyle’s short stories called The Human Fly and Other Stories.

The story began with a quote by Franz Kafka in A Hunger Artist,  “Just try to explain to anyone the art of fasting.”

The Human Fly by T.C. Boyle is a quick read that spires readers into the world of a talent agent set as a less successful counterpart in a large entertainment business.  One day he is approached by a man who refers to himself as la Mosca Humana, or the human fly.  This man is portrayed to carry a certain estranged sadness within his cape and bathing cap.  The character becomes known as Zoltan, but his full name is Zoltan Mindszenty. Zoltan has one object in mind throughout the story, and that is that he wants to be famous.  This is made apparent from the very beginning of the story, a goal is set and the two have a reason to need one another.  I won’t spoil anything and tell everything that happens, but i will say there are some absolutely sky high stunts portrayed scarily detailed by T.C. Boyle.

The tone of the book is the tone of the narrator for the most part, and that is Zoltan’s manager.  The name of this character is never revealed, but I believe this adds to the story.  The agent himself is much more caring and human than others in the business and this is portrayed by the worry the reader truly feels in all of the situations, for Zoltan.  Money could be made off of Zoltan whether not he lives or dies at one point in the story, and that shows the human and relatable part to the narrator.  Now, the narrator was not always this way.  In the beginning he was in it for the money and spotlight, but you see the shift of character throughout the story.  It is a un-pointed out, very important, change in voice and context he categorizes his emotions in.

I would recommend this story as a quick read with a lot of flesh and layers.  The imagery is beautiful, a real sense in all of the story.  There is an array of emotions to be taken away and given to this story, from sadness to hope and disbelief to anger.  If you are looking to be given another universe in your mind for a minute, this is the story for you.

My favorite part of the story is the narrator describing Zoltan in this quote,

“A fine band of skin as blanched and waxen as the cap of a mushroom outlined his ears, his hairline, and the back of his neck, dead white against the sun-burnished oval of his face.  His eyes were pale watery blue and the hair beneath the cap was as wispy and colorless as the strands of his mustache.  His name was Zoltan Mindszenty, and he’d come to Los Angeles to live with his uncle when the Russian tanks rolled through Budapest in 1956.”

Part IV of Quiet by Susan Cane

How to Love, How to Work

Chapter 9-11

Chapter 9; “When should you act more extroverted than you really are?”

This chapter begins with a quote by William James:

“A man has many social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares.  He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.”

The quote summerizes the basic thought the chapter is based off of.  It explains the free trait theory veru simply also.  This chapter poses the question “Do fixed personality traits really exist, or do they shift according to situation.?” The Free Trait Theory says we are born culturally endowed with certain personality traits, such as extro or introversion.  However intoverts are capable of acting like extroverts when working on “core personal projects”.  These are things people find personally important- loved ones or anything this person values highly in their life.

This Chapter includes a checklist to see if you are a high self monitor or not.  A high self monitor plays to audience.  They ‘monitor’ their social behaviour more than low self moniters.  Low self monitors go by their own internal compass.  They are less sensitive to social cues and behaviour changes.

Chapter 10

The Communication Gap

‘How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type’

This chapter begins with a quote by Carl Jung:

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

This chapter tells how introverts and extroverts react to one another.  The book says that introverts actually attract extroverts, as extroverts tend to attract inroverts.  Opposites attract, in other words.  The chapter opens with an example of a couple that is introverted and extroverted.  They love eachother, however the fights they have are normally about social events.  Unsurprisingly the extrovert wants people over constantly, while the introvert does not.  The two admire one another for their opposite strengths.  The extrovert feels grounded will the intovert feels alive.  I good dynamic for a relationship, whether it is frienship or being a couple.

The book also talks about the dynamic of understanding portrayed emotion through each personality.  When arguing intoverts typically get flat toned and sipassionate, whether it is sad news or angry news.  This is hard for extroverts to understand because all they see is a dispassionate person that does not care.  When really, it’s the opposite.  Introverts care too much, typically and do not know how to accurately portray that emotion without breaking into fits of complete vulnerability.

Chapter 11

On Cobblers and Generals

‘How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World that Can’t Hear Them’

This chapter begins with a quote by Plato, The Republic

“With anything young and tender the most important part of the task is the beginning of it; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression more readily taken.”

This chapter explains how if extrocerted parents are given an introverted child, they often think something is wrong with this child.  However in another household, this kid would be a ‘model child’.  It really does depend on the understanding of the two types of personalities.  It starts with a story once told by Mark Twain about a man in search of the greatest general to ever live.  This man went all the way around the world, and by the time he found the guy someone told him the greatest general ever had died.  The man pays a visit to the pearly white gates and talks to Saint Paul.  The man tells Saint Paul he is looking for the greatest general that ever lived.  Saint Paul points to a regular looking man.   The man says “That’s not the greatest general to ever live!  I knew him when he was alive, he’s just an old cobbler.”  To which Saint John replied with “No, he was not a general, but if he was he would have been the greatest that ever lived.”  This is supposed to show the importance of letting talents flourish.

In conclusion, the tone was factual, but it is biased for introverts.  It refers to extroverts in a sort of outsider way.  I immensely enjoyed this informative concept and structure of the book.  Each paragraph began with a quote and a story as an example of the topic.  It was a very well written book, and I would recommend it.

Quiet by Susan Cain Part III

Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?

Soft Power

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This section of Quiet by Susan Cain explores the different cultural outlook of the “perfect” or “ideal” boss.  Mainly looking into Asian countries ideals.

It seems that the extrovert ideal is not important at all to Asian countries.  Indulgence of sound is important to them, but it is opposite from Americans where the sound they should indulge in comes from.  Asian families would much rather instill a “listen before speaking” basis in their children.   Listening is much more important for finding information and making well rounded, well thought out decisions.

Personally, I think this is very important in the case of understanding Asian culture and people.  In fact, I think this rule is brilliant.  I do not find having grades for how much you speak in class, just to get a grade for being loud without understanding anything, is a good thing.  I think it is lazy teaching and shows that culture in America prizes loud and noisy people over well thought out and well aimed articulate people.  China and Japan prizes the quiet and well spoken people.  They are number one in industry for a reason, and I think this is a beautiful way of thinking because it prizes respect and thought over being spoken over and not thinking about things.  Obviously America prizes loud noisy people, our cabinet is full of them.  Our president is a perfect way to show this.  He is loud and intimidating, but as shown what has he to show he thinks?  Not much but his words.  His tweets sure don’t.

Back to the subject, the book gives examples of how surprised immigrants from Asian countries were to sit in an American classroom for the first time.  Susan Cain met and interviewed Hung Wei Chien, a mother in Cupertino, California who moved from Taiwan to the U.S. in 1979.

“I remember bring amazed.  It was linguistics class, and that’s not even linguistics the students are talking about!  I thought, ‘oh, in the U.S., as soon as you start talking, you’re fine.”   while as she reminisced about her time as a child growing up and attending school back in Taiwan, she commented “The teaching back home is very different from here.  There, you learn the subject, and they test you.  At least when I grew up, they don’t go off subject a lot, and they don’t allow the students to ramble.  If you stand up and talk nonsense, you’ll be reprimanded.”

This section of Quiet followed the differences in what the U.S. prided its students off of verses what Asian countries prided themselves off of.  It explains the importances they set on the basis of their counties and contributes to societal affairs and the economy of the country as a whole.

My take on this section of the book is that the United States puts too much importance on just talking instead of also talking to listen as well.  I believe there needs to be a balance between the two.  These are both incredible aspects to pride off of, but if there is not one to listen what is the point of talking and if there is no one to talk what is the point of listening?

Quiet by Susan Cane Part I

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is a factually powerful read.  The book itself is split into four parts. In this review, I will talk about the part entitled, “The Extrovert Ideal”.

“Strangers’ eyes, keen and critical.  Can you meet them- Confidently– without fear?” – Print Advertisement for Woodbury’s Soap, 1922

The section begins with a reflection on the creation of the ideal business man and the transition from a society based upon morals to a society based upon personality, or as historian Warren Susman put it a “Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality”.  It is pressed into the readers mind from the beginning a tone of biased among an introvert studying a simple fascination of the extroverted “ideals” and natural to learned traits and behaviors.

Quoted from Cane herself “In a Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honorable.  What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private.  The word personality didn’t exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of ‘having a good personality’ was not widespread until the twentieth.”

It was about the industrialistic new society that was being created that moved the discipline man out of the spotlight to platform a man meant for selling the spotlight.  The twentieth century brought on a less agricultural outlook and created today’s urban culture.  The extroverted businessman was a key part played in this development, because along with the big production belts came a need for someone to sell those products to ordinary people who didn’t simply leave their house with the intention to buy.  Thus the salesman was created.  Since business circulates business the best people to be in business was not the people who knew laws and philosophy and the real antics of things, but rather the people who knew how to talk and sway into other peoples wants.  They needed to be confident, loud, a natural improviser of charm, attractive, and an overall energetically open person.  The need for these people to sell and exist was what created the American idealistic personality/person.  Everyone wanted to be these people so that they could be something.

Since this bar in society was created, they noticed the difference in natural salesmen and their counterpart opposites.  The closed door operators were the people who simply were not this, and so they were not this “something” everyone wanted to be.  Introverts were not noticed out of praise, they were noticed to contrast the extroverted agenda society had created at the time.  Ads like the one that Cane began the book with, and I quoted to begin my article were used to entice sell factor from the need to become this type.

Parents taught haughtiness and over activity to perfect these introverted limps in the child’s personality.  This spiked the anxiety and insecurity in the average person, and continues to grow over time.  Ads and TV shows portray larger than life men and beautified perfect women.  No wonder the years that followed this transition created such a divide and objective to personify yourself as largely and widely as possible.

Crane does a wonderful job of telling the transition and the importance to stay in-tuned with your extroverted side as much as possible.  She does not leave the underlying pieces of opposition out though, as she sees and details the difference and the utmost importance that both extroverts and introverts are necessity to keep the ball rolling.

I found this book, or rather, this book found me at a bookstore in Seaside, FL.  I was staring at a book beside it when a man came up and pointed at it and told me, “I’m not an introvert, but my friends who’ve read it are telling me that it’s a great book.  Just thought I’d let you know.”  And I am a big believer in fate, so this book was mine the second that happened.  I find it reflective, a real penny for your thoughts kind of book.  Reflection to society and the society your grandparents grew up in and the similarities, showing the times aren’t that different after all.  Maybe a bit more or less extreme in some places, but the cracks and barriers in preferable personalities is a common strong suit that plays a roll in both.




Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson book review


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson  is about a girl tortured by an eating disorder and being the only one that could have stopped the death of her childhood best friend.  It begins with the basics of a disordered thought process- calories over nutrition, the thoughts of anorexia.  In the chapters that pass, you see the hurtles she goes through coping with her eating disorder.  The way that this is control for her, she explains so much through her story from top to bottom with anorexia, and her best friend, who at recently died of bulimia in the story.  It is pain meant to be read, and meant to be scoured through.


I found this book exponentially helpful in sweeping through all the point of views of a story centered around an eating disorder.  Little details of input memory stories showed the pain enthralled family, the stressful doctors offices and appointments.   For me, i read it with that purpose, to be able to gaze through a kaleidoscope of views and not only the sicknesses thoughts.  People with that mindset need to see other peoples pain because they are so enthralled in control and number hypnotization.  It distracts from everything- but this book brings the point of view back to a centerfold of perspective.  That is what makes this story so memorable and well done for me.

Appeal Factor(s)

The writing and structure is beautiful.  The imagery spiked my obsession with Laurie Halse Anderson- who never disappoints with that factor.  A quote I will never forget it is:

Why? You want to know why?

Step into a tanning booth and fry yourself for two or three days. After your skin bubbles and peels off, roll in coarse salt, then pull on long underwear woven from spun glass and razor wire. Over that goes your regular clothes, as long as they are tight.

Smoke gunpowder and go to school to jump through hoops, sit up and beg, and roll over on command. Listen to the whispers that curl into your head at night, calling you ugly and fat and stupid and bitch and whore and worst of all, “a disappointment.” Puke and starve and cut and drink because you don’t want to feel any of this. Puke and starve and drink and cut because you need the anesthetic and it works. For a while. But then the anesthetic turns into poison and by then it’s too late because you are mainlining it now, straight into your soul. It is rotting you and you can’t stop.

Look in a mirror and find a ghost. Hear every heartbeat scream that everysinglething is wrong with you.

“Why?” is the wrong question.

Ask “Why not? “

If this is not appealing enough for you, then i do not know what would be.  It is the most personal thing I’ve read that i never knew was so loud at one point in my life.  It is a book like this, a book that scares you, that makes you learn.  It’s like a metaphor to a lesson in life.  Overall this book is one of the most personal things I could fear and love at the same time and i could not recommend a book more strongly.

Not-so-appealing Factor(s)

It may be too emotionally conflicting for you, in some parts the description becomes very graphic.  Which is exactly what a topic like this needs, but some people would not appreciate out of the sheer discomfort of what they see through it.  I, personally, am am very emotionally in touch person, and so i cried and laughed and related wherever needed in the book.  There is a difference in just emotionally in touch and just out right discomfort- this is a disclaimer to those that may not like to read sad things, or things too vulnerable.