“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our [f]ears.”

The title of this post is a modification of a Dickens quotation.  In the original, the final word is “tears,” but when I look at the quote every morning on the cover of A Charles Dickens Devotional (previously reviewed), the t looks like an f, so I’ve gotten it into my head the wrong way.  Anyway, I think both sentiments make sense.

I chose the title because last night I was thinking about my top three greatest fears, particularly my probably irrational fear of getting seriously ill or injured and consequently losing some brain function, leading me to become or appear less intelligent.  Sometime I may write a full post about my biggest fears (I’m sure they look pretty silly when written down), but for now I simply want to give you a list of disconnected, but related, quotations and thoughts that have come to me while I’ve been worrying about the fear that I mentioned and pondering the subjects of humility, not holding too tightly to what I value, and not caring so much about what people think of me.

(This list is dedicated to all the Ravenclaws out there and to Hermione Granger, who should have been a Ravenclaw.)

  • Wit beyond measure may be man’s greatest treasure, but God’s wisdom makes our wit look like foolishness.
  • “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men . . . God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (I Corinthians 1:25, 27)
  • “Take my intellect and use / Every power as you choose.” (Frances Ridley Havergal)
  • “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:1-2) N.B., Ravenclaws: Luna Lovegood gets this.

Oh, P.S. Perce Shelley, Queen Mab, and I are doing fine now.  I no longer want to shoot myself in the eye.  Hope you enjoyed the Wordsworth anyway. 🙂

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The Hunger Games and exploitation

Everybody already knows that The Hunger Games is, in part, a social commentary on a lot of things: surveillance, reality television, extreme body modification, poverty, governmental power, etc.  The morning after I saw the movie (which is quite good), I tried to think of something new to say about it on my blog.  This came to me while I was blow-drying my hair, an activity which seems to generate many good ideas for me:

The Hunger Games is a commentary on the entertainment industry and how you “break into” it.  The Careers from Districts 1 and 2 are analogous to professional actors: They are, in most cases, born to privilege.  They have trained to be performers their whole lives.  They volunteer because they enjoy doing the kinds of things the Games require them to do.

I haven’t found a good analogy for the people in the middle districts–maybe they’re people who play bit parts in movies and television and don’t really get recognized–but those in the outer districts, 11 and 12, are parallel to those who get dragged into the entertainment industry by exploitative measures.  These tend to be people who either need the little bit of money that temporary notoriety might bring them, or have a personal non-conformity that our society’s Gamemakers judge to be potentially good entertainment.  (In the old days, this latter group would have been in circus freak shows.)  I’m talking about the people who appear in shows as widely ranging in subject matter and in quality as The People’s Court, Hoarders, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, The Biggest Loser, and even the audition weeks of American Idol.  To some extent, also, the casts of recent “redneck” reality shows such as Swamp People and Duck Dynasty are in this category, although they seem to be more self-aware and wry than those on the other shows I mentioned.  I’m not saying that all of these shows are purely exploitative, but I am saying that the reasons many people watch these shows are the same reasons the Capital’s citizens watch The Hunger Games.  The reasons are a complex web including identification, sympathy, curiosity, and the attraction of repulsion.  Cruelty may be part of the web for some people, especially in the Capital, but certainly not everyone.

An example of curiosity about other lifestyles, a curiosity that can become exploitative, is the tradition of dressing the tributes in costumes that stereotypically represent their district’s industry.  The Capital’s citizens can say, “Oh, isn’t that cute (or weird); they’re coal miners!” without really attempting to understand District’s 12’s culture or challenges.  That’s why it’s so important that Cinna gives Peeta and especially Katniss a measure of dignity by designing costumes for them that are truly attractive and represent their district in a subtler way.

I may return to this rather undeveloped post later.  Feel free to chime in.

Meanwhile

While I’m trying to think of a way to revive my readers’ (and my own) interest in my blog, here’s some good writing by someone else: William Wordsworth.  I pulled my Romanticism anthology off the shelf in order to start working on the extensive revisions necessary for my essay “Shelley’s Queen Mab: The Medium versus the Message,” which currently makes me want to shoot myself in the eye.  Instead of shooting myself in the eye, I’ve decided to share with you my favorite Wordsworth poem.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.  Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus coming from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Penelope Clearwater Revival…

…would be a good name for a Southern-inflected wizard rock band. Feel free to use it if you are thinking of starting one (as I’m sure many of you are).

A Penelope Clearwater Revival is also what this blog needs. I feel like I need a theme, or something give people a reason to actually want to read my blog. I’ll get back to you on that. Maybe more pictures of fairies?

Fairies in Melbourne

Fairies may be living in Melbourne, Australia.  Here is some evidence.

In the Melbourne Zoo (the world’s oldest zoo, but with a lot of up-to-date features reminiscent of Disney’s Animal Kingdom), there is a statue of Peter Pan similar to the one in London’s Kensington Gardens, where fairies found the baby Peter.  If you look closely, however, you’ll see that the Melbourne Peter is accompanied by a kangaroo.

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Another good home for fairies in Melbourne is Fitzroy Gardens.  This park looks like (and is) a place where Victorians had Sunday picnic fundraisers for the children’s hospital.  Though the main thoroughfares are broad walkways lined with stately trees and charming classical statuary, there are several little wildernesses ideal for getting briefly lost (if you are a human) or living (if you are a fairy).  But the best evidence that fairies live in Fitzroy Gardens is the Fairy Tree–see below.

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No worries, mate

People in Australia actually say, “No worries, mate”! I mean, not everybody. So far, I’ve only heard men say it. Store clerks tend to say “See ya” when you’re leaving (instead of “Have a nice day” or nothing). In general, the atmosphere is more casual–except on Collins Street (in downtown Melbourne) when everyone is getting off work!

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen so far in Australia: Loch Ard Gorge, along the Great Ocean Road.

snow, Penelope, Australia

This post has three unrelated topics.

1. It snowed again in Lynchburg.  Apparenly the only time I update my blog is when it snows.  This time, the snow was minimal in volume and low in excitement (it happened overnight, so we didn’t even get to see it arrive, and it didn’t even stick on the roads).  Definitely not picture-worthy.  But worth noting.  This winter, any amount of snow is worth noting.

2. I saw Penelope Clearwater.  Last night as I was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the first time in a long time, I noticed her (noticed myself?) for the first time ever.  The scene is near the beginning of the movie; you see Nearly Headless Nick swooping into the Great Hall where the students are at breakfast.  Percy and Penelope are walking out of the shot, and you hear Percy say, “Hello, Sir Nicholas,” and Nick says, “Hello, Percy; Hello, Miss Clearwater.”  Because her back is turned, all you can see of Penelope is that she has long, light-colored hair.  I guess it’s not really that exciting.

3. But you know what is exciting?  Next week, my sister and I are going to visit our dad at work–in Melbourne, Australia!  Here are some things we hope to see: Phillip Island, where there are penguins; the oldest zoo in America; the jail where famous outlaw Ned Kelly was hanged.  Updates, with pictures, will follow.