20 November 2016

The Once and Future King...Now and Forever Relevant

Has it ever struck you as interesting that English teachers, especially high school English teachers, analyze the same set of books with their students every year? My English teacher recently informed my class that the literature he is teaching this year is the same set of literature he taught last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etc. Why is that? How is it that a specific set of literature can be so meaningful to a teacher that they are capable of teaching the same set of literature to hundreds of students for several (*cough* 30 *cough*) years?

His explanation was that he teaches this same set of literature to his students every year because the reactions of his students are predictable. Every year, certain students will appreciate certain works, and that is because as a generality, humanity itself is predictable. He explains that the first time he read the these works of literature, each composition affected him in a manner similar to that of his students. Thus, because humanity is predictable - the reactions of his students are predictable, and because the reactions of his students are predictable, he teaches the same set of literature every year. These books obviously maintain a deep relevance to his personal life if he teaches them every year, but considering the novels analyzed, I have realized that these works have affected my classmates and me in a predictable manner. Predictable, because like many of his students prior, my perception and understanding of humanity and civilization have furthered in a similar manner.

The first novel analyzed was The Once and Future King by T.H. White. I have realized that my English teacher analyzes this novel every year because the truths regarding humanity and civilization addressed throughout the novel are not only relevant to the medieval ages, nor the year of publication, but now and forever. Humanity is predictable and because humanity is predictable, this novel is relevant to the lives of those from when it was first written, to modern times, and forever into the future. (Hence the name, "The Once and Future King.")

If you have read the novel The Once and Future King and are interested in my analysis of decency and civilization within the novel, I posted my synthesis essay below:

The Relationship of Decency and Civilization
“Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.”
Pablo Casals
Although the perception of humanity as decent is admirable, in relation to the novel The Once and Future King, Arthur was unable to effectively establish civilization because he maintained this faith in the decency of man. This ideal, represented through his statements and actions, influences his reign.  Throughout various texts, the authors outlined and characterized the consequences of perceiving man as genuinely and inherently decent. Therefore, because Arthur maintains this perception of humanity, his actions often correlated with the consequences and conditions described within these texts.
Although Arthur consistently maintains faith in the decency of man, it is not until the conclusion of the novel, The Once and Future King, that Arthur recognizes and understands this underlying constant during his reign. Reflecting upon the lessons he learned through experience, Arthur recounts, “He had been taught...that man was perfectible: that he was on the whole more decent than beastly: that good was worth trying: that there was no such thing as original sin” (White, 628). Thus, as exemplified through this quotation, Arthur believed that man, inherently decent, was not capable of wickedness and immorality. Consequently, Arthur attributes his failures at establishing civilization not to the basic immorality of the knights themselves, but to external influences - in this instance, his own, ineffective methods of unification. “[The] goodness of man...deludes people into thinking that they are always victims, never villains...It dismisses responsibility...It can excuse any crime, because it can always blame something else” (The Enduring Revolution). Therefore, though Arthur intended to unite his knights under an established system of morality, because he altered the dynamic between his knights and morality rather than developing their basic character, he encouraged the belief that the knights were victims of external evil and not the villains themselves. By fostering this belief within his knights, Arthur excused their wrongdoings and allowed the knights to attribute evil to their environment. John Eldredge, the author of the nonfictional text, Epic, emphasizes that because God provided all human beings with the both ability to love and to reject Him and morality, God created life’s greatest enemy - the tendency of the individual to excuse and disregard indecency and immorality. “[People] don’t live as though the Story has a Villain...the incarnation of the very worst of every enemy you’ve met in every other story” (Eldredge, 39). As Eldredge lists a series of vile incarnations of evil, it is apparent that individuals often excuse and disregard the greatest evils in order to preserve their own morality - or lack thereof. Therefore, in relation to The Once and Future King, because Arthur allowed his knights to live as victims and not villains, his knights never learned to address the vile incarnations of evil, and the evil of their own immorality. Therefore, because Arthur regarded his knights as beings of decency and victims of a cruel environment, he allowed the force of immorality to reveal itself through the consequential actions of the knights later within the novel.
Though Arthur consistently attempts to establish civilization, his last attempt, a codified system of moral principles and policies, was ineffective because he continued to maintain faith in the decency of man. Believing that “human nature [could] be perfected by government,” as Arthur attempted to bind the force of might through law, his faith in the decency of man influenced his codification of evil. This is so because although this established system of laws addressed individualized immorality, it did not directly address the ethical conduct of organized groups.“The Principle of Might had sprung up behind him in another shape - in the shape...of numerous armies insusceptible to individual laws. He had bound the might of units, only to find that it was assumed by pluralities” (White, 629). Therefore, though a strict system of laws temporarily prevented the materialization of immorality, the individualized nature of Arthur’s system of laws could not withstand the force of organized groups. As Arthur attempted to establish civilization through the foundation of a codified system of law, “[He] pledged to move the world, but could only stain it with blood” (The Enduring Revolution). Arthur intended to bind the force of might through the regulation of the immorality of individuals, but might materialized in violent war and conflict. As brutal wars erupted throughout Europe under Arthur’s reign, all previous moral progress from the codification of evil was contradicted. Furthermore, as outlined in “If you believe that people are basically good,” because Arthur perceives man as basically decent, he did not reinforce his code of laws with religious morality. “The crowd that believes in innate human goodness tends to either be secular or to reduce God and religion”(If you believe that people are basically good). Consequently, Arthur's systematic code was unsuccessful because of its individualized, secular nature. However, if Arthur maintained a perception of inherent decency in men, and not individuals, he may have developed the character of humanity as a plurality - rather than improving civilization through an individualized system of law. “The world in all its beauty shall be ours again - forever...And it’s the word ours that pierces me” (Eldredge, 84). Cited from Epic, this quotation indicates that in the instance humanity possesses morality collectively, the world in its beauty shall be that of humanity. Therefore by practicing collective morality, the true beauty of the world is revealed to humanity - the beauty of morality. If Arthur had established an ethical code that was influenced by his religious values and also addressed pluralities instead of individuals, Arthur may have succeeded in establishing civilization. However, his faith in the basic decency of man prevented him from effectively establishing civilization.
As Arthur conceptualized the Round Table, the basis of which was human decency, although he acknowledged the presences of might and immorality, he attempted to redirect these forces  rather than directly improving the character of his knights. After Arthur had established the Round Table, he instructed his unified knights to convert their right into morality and act accordingly. “He had sent out the men of might to rescue the oppressed and to straighten evil…[until] the ends had been achieved, but the force had remained upon his hands unchastened” (White, 629). Reflecting upon his experience as ruler, Arthur recognizes that rather than emphasizing moral development, in order to redirect the force of might - he redirected the knights that practiced might over morality. Believing man was basically decent, Arthur allowed these knights to distinguish between might and morality. Thus, Arthur did not influence the force of immorality itself, but instead harnessed and redirected might. As Arthur allowed his knights to subjectively and individually distinguish might from morality – he fostered the development of moral relativism within the knights. This moral relativism excuses all actions of immorality – as one individual’s interpretation of morality often deeply contrasts with another. According to Mark Twain, the capability to individually determine distinction is the greatest infliction upon man. Thus, because no one perception of morality is superior to another, all actions - even those that are wicked - are excused as moral. As Mark Twain emphasizes, “The infliction upon man [is] of the Moral Sense: the ability to distinguish good from evil; and with it, necessarily, the ability to do evil; for there can be no evil act without the presence of consciousness of it in the doer of it” (The Damned Human Race). Twain concludes that evil actions cannot be committed without an evil conscious. Twain also contradicts the notion of moral relativism – as the Moral Sense man was afflicted with was not intended to be individually and subjectively determined. Rather, this Moral Sense finitely distinguishes morality from immorality - without the loose interpretations of morality from secular society. Therefore, because Arthur established the Round Table on the decency of man and fostered the development of moral relativism, he allowed society to “[abandon] its transcendent values...each individual’s moral vision [became] purely personal and finally equal,” (The Enduring Revolution). Consequently, Arthur not only fostered moral relativism, but the notion that all interpretations of morality are equally valid. Therefore, because Arthur established the Round Table on the decency of man and also enabled the development of moral relativism – he was unsuccessful in establishing civilization. Arthur’s civilization degenerated into an amalgamation of individual moral perceptions. Thus, Arthur’s faith in the decency of man caused the development of moral relativism and the equality of moral perceptions, and consequently prevented the establishment of civilization on the principles of morality.

Although Arthur was correct in his intent to establish civilization, because he maintained an unwavering faith in the decency of man, Arthur was incapable of successfully establishing a civilization of true virtue and morality. Though Arthur was able to physically unite his knights – this unity was not a perfect civilization. Arthur aspired to establish civilization, but each attempt at civilization was counteracted by the materialization of immorality and might. Therefore, although Arthur often improved civilization, it was always short of perfection. In the ninth book of the Republic, as Glaucon converses with Socrates, he states: “But the city whose foundation we have been describing has its being only in words; there is no spot on earth where it exists.” Paralleling this statement, though Arthur conceptualized a perfect, moral civilization, this conception did not develop into a physical reality. Socrates replies: “No; but it is laid up in heaven as a pattern for him who wills to see, and seeing, to found that city in himself. Whether it exists anywhere…is no matter.” Thus, Socrates emphasizes that although a perfect civilization may never be physically established, Arthur, a man of decency, was capable of establishing perfect civilization within himself.

04 September 2016

Rex the Traveling Dog

Yesterday, as my siblings and I went strolling about the neighborhood park, our loud dog was unusually quiet. Cautiously easing forward on his paws, he gently strained the leash, tugging us forward. As we wandered around the dense shrubbery, a friendly, smiling face greeted us.

As our dog encircled the unfamiliar form, his silent prowling had ceased, and he burst into a series of growls and barks that echoed across the park. As my siblings attempted to calm our dog, I examined the plastic figure more carefully, noticing the detailed waves in the fur of the dog. My eyes soon wandered to the letter tied to the soft collar of the dog. Slowly untying the knot and unfolding the letter, my eyes darted across the paper, scanning the surprising contents of the letter.

According to the note, the dog is Rex the Traveling Dog, and he has ventured across the United States and visited many cities and states.

As my siblings pored over the note beside me, although we were tempted to bring the plastic dog to our house, we ultimately decided to move the figure to a more obvious location and snap a few pictures.

Although this post did not involve any of my personal writing, this post does prove that writing is everywhere (including attached to the collars of plastic dogs hidden at the park).

To close, here side-by-side pictures of Rex and my real dog:

31 July 2016

Happy Birthday Harry! (and J.K. Rowling, Of Course)

In order to celebrate the birthday(s) of Harry Potter and his talented creator, J.K. Rowling, and the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I went over to a friend's house for a Harry Potter themed party. Although the party itself was entertaining, the intricacy of the decorations was the best aspect of the party.

30 July
Walking into the house, I was greeted by a cardboard cutout of none other than the Boy Who Lived himself. In the dining room, handmade candles fashioned from paper were suspended from the ceiling - creating the illusion of levitation. (Wengardium Leviosa, am I right?) The faces in family portraits were amusingly replaced with printed images of characters from the cinematic films. Lettered envelopes erupted from the fireplace as well. However, my favorite room in the entire house was interestingly the bathroom. A message was painted in red across the mirror, reading: The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir...beware

Although a creative addition itself, the writing on the mirror was overshadowed by a sticker in an unsuspecting location. Behind a closed door, my immediate reaction to this sticker was a hysterical outburst of laughter.

The food at the party was also creative - my favorite snacks were the rich chocolate frogs and creamy Butterbeer served. Although I have minimal understanding of the recipe for Butterbeer, it was delicious.

 Besides the snacks, the activities were also entertaining, especially wand making. Though a simple concept requiring few materials, it's always good to stick with the classics. Did you attend an awesome Harry Potter party? Tell me all about it in the comments!

31 July
This morning, I also visited Pottermore, the official affiliated Harry Potter website that features a series of quizzes and short stories written by J.K. Rowling herself. Frantic to create an account before a wave of users surged to the website, I created an account and completed the quizzes. If you're interested in my results, here they are:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

21 July 2016

Just. Write. It.

Today, July 21st, is Just Write Day. Although a somewhat underground occasion, thanks to the writers and editors of a new creative writing magazine for teens, Just Write Day has become a much more involved occasion.

The magazine I am referring to is the British Illustrated Chronicle, (BIC), an inventive and informative literary magazine that features original flash fiction, comic strips, and short stories centralizing the theme, (in my own words), "writing over typing". Furthermore, the literary magazine is entirely created by hand. The content of the magazine is inventive and informative, but even more so I the creative layout and design of the publication. Custom, artistic fonts vary the style of the headers, complemented by unique borders and designs.

Nike Swoosh Copyright of Nike Inc.
Although the British Illustrated Chronicle has their own tagline and logo, I decided to create one of my own. (Just for fun, of course.) I mean, why "Just do it", when you can "Just write it"?

Here's what makes the British Illustrated Chronicle so interesting:

Typing? Never.
Rather than slapping their fingers across keyboards for hours each week to draft and edit articles for the B.I.C, each page, each paragraph, each sentence, and each word was painstakingly copied onto paper by hand - even as severe hand cramps settled.

Digital Imaging? Don't Mention it.
Instead, each contributor the magazine was depicted in a colorful caricature and added to creating the welcoming introductory pages of the chronicle. Furthermore, all depictions are original artwork created by the editors and contributors of the magazine.

Computer Generated Fonts? (I'm looking at you Times New Roman) Definitely not.
Although the text of the magazine is written by hand itself, the headers above this text is also originally handwritten. The header of each article is unique, featuring varying color schemes and styles. Though the final headers were stunning, I guarantee that it required a boatload of effort and practice (that's probably why I don't use hand-drawn, custom fonts).

Bottom line, if you're looking for quality entertainment that doesn't directly (and indirectly) involve electronics or anything digital, take a look at the British Illustrated Chronicle website and check out their new magazine!

20 July 2016

Patience in Painting

As I promised, here is another entry in the contest hosted at the Creative Writing Ink website. Although this prompt was updated on June 30th, here I am busting it out today. This painting, a piece of Edouard Manet, depicts a gentleman and a lady in a fine boat on the water. Thus, in my opinion, it was a lot more difficult to draft a corresponding short story for this prompt. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Patience in Painting
  "How about you move a little to the left, Madame Dane? A little bit more. Perfect."
  As I waved my hand to the left, gesturing to my subject to adjust her position, the back of my hand collided with a ceramic paint jar, hurtling it toward the patterned brick below my feet. Instinctively turning away, I winced at the sound of the jar splintering into shards. Worse, the paint within the jar was no longer resting on my easel, rather staining the red brick a deep blue. 
  Closing my eyes, I clenched my palette in my left hand, and massaged the hairs on my paintbrush with my thumb - spreading the paint onto my pale fingers. Sighing, I turned to my painting, relieved that I had completed the majority of the lake background and would be able to finish the piece with little difficulty. 
  Filling in the contours of Madame Dane with a thin brush, I used short, brisk strokes to add texture to her dress. Raising my brush, I added the final details to Madame Dane, stroking in her lips and flashing texture along her figure to maintain consistency.
  Stepping backwards to admire my work from a different angle, I noticed my other subject, Mister Ducort, glaring intensely at me. He displayed a menacing sneer, raising a single eyebrow and lightly twitching his lips.
  "Mr. Ducort, I do realize that is a difficult position to maintain, and I apologize for your discomfort, but could you please flash a smile for me? Thanks."
  Grunting, the man shifted his expression to a strained smile. Unsatisfied, I relieved him of smiling and requested that he maintain a neutral expression.
  Nodding his head, the man ditched smiling and settled for a more relaxed posture and resting expression. Having reached an agreement, the man did not bother to challenge his current pose or intentionally shift his position. However, as I moved to highlighting the water, I noticed a small object resting on the splintered bench of the boat.
  "What is that?" I asked, gesturing with my paintbrush in hand.
 Unsure whether to speak or not, Mr. Ducort and Madame Dane remained silent, maintaining their posture and not even casting a glance in my direction.
  "Mr. Ducort and Madame Dane, one of you please tell me what that is, it's altering the lighting and shadows on the bench."
  Sliding his leathered hands over to the object, Mr. Ducort hesitatingly clasped it in his palm, completely concealing it. Swallowing, the man knelt on one leg, extending his hands toward the heart of  Madame Dane, and produced a small box. Opening the box, an exquisite ring was neatly folded into white lace.
  Swallowing once again, Mr. Ducort asked in a bold tone, "Madame Dane, beloved, will you marry me?"
  Madame Dane did not exhibit any form of reaction. Unblinking, she maintained her posture and expression, refusing to glance toward Mr. Ducort. Flustered and disappointed, Mr. Ducort held his pose. I could tell that in his eyes, he was desperately hoping for Madame Dane's acceptance.
  Unsure of the proper way to react, I cried, "Madame Dane, forget posing for this painting and get on with it, will you?"
  At these words, she leaped from her seat and swung her arms around Mr. Ducort, knocking him to the floor of the boat.
  A smile glowing on her face, Madame Dane refused to stop repeating, "Yes, of course!"
  In order to offer the couple privacy, I gathered my supplies in an uncaring manner, and tossed them into my satchel. Still wet, I left the painting on my easel and walked in the opposite direction. However, before I had left the street, Mr. Ducort darted from the boat and trod over to me.
  "Thank you, Mr. Manet. Thank you for your patience and your time."
  With a grin, I replied, "Your happiness is the only currency I know, but I would still like to be paid."  

19 July 2016


This is another entry in the contest hosted at the Creative Writing Ink website. The picture below was provided by the website as inspiration for a short form of prose for the week of June 16th. However, I modified the picture so that it is consistent with the flash fiction.

   Although the air outside was warm, I shivered as I wandered throughout the long hallways of my house. Though I modestly refer to our residence as a house, it's really a mansion. This massive three story structure towers over the neighborhood, matched only by the extravagant floral display encircling our mansion.
  As I walked along the hallway, I admired our conservative family portraits, noticing our grim expressions and erect posture. The space between each portrait was consistent, forming a simple pattern throughout the hallways. My family and I were clothed in finely pressed garments and were positioned before a waterfall of black fabric cascading in the background. Although I enjoyed the portraits themselves, the most stunning aspect of the images were the frames that enclosed them.
  Unlike the pictures, which were nearly identical except for our age, each frame was unique and original. The most expensive frame was carved from raw gold, and engraved with our names and the intricate branches of a delicate tree. Conversely, the least expensive was simple in style and fashioned from plastic. However, the most striking frame was carved from ebony and depicted rolling waves along its border.
  The longer I admired the frame, the stronger the urge was to admire the frame without the distraction of the portrait of my conservative family. Running my tongue over my dry lips, I glanced in each direction, ensuring that I would not be discovered. Hesitatingly extending my limbs toward the frame, I barely managed to remove the frame the wall.
   Crouching, I silently dismantled the contents of the frame, removing the cardboard base and secondary layers. However, as I continued to bare the frame, I noticed a small, yellowed rectangle resting in a corner of the frame. The writing scrawled at the bottom was indecipherable except for a single word that I recognized: Katherine - my mother's name.
  Turning the slip in my hand, I recognized my mother's brown, flowing hair, but I did not recognize the boy with blonde hair running behind her. Clutching what appears to be my mother's hat, the boy was dressed in a drab gown with bright stockings and polished shoes. Although I did not recognize the young boy, something about him was familiar. Shifting the paper over again, I squinted my eyes and distinguished the penmanship of my father.
  Brimming with joy at this discovery, I pressed the image to my chest, closed my eyes, and imagined the waves frothing on the shore, the warm sand brushing my legs, and the childish, uncontrolled laughter of my young parents.
  I realized exactly what this image depicted - the first time my parent's had met, and it wasn't even framed.

15 July 2016

Push and Poll

Hey all! I'm letting you know that this post isn't about me or my experiences, but about you and your preferences. Here is the rundown: I've realized, (like many others), that Scribentia is a snooze button name for a blog (including a writing blog.) Thus, I've compiled a list of names, (and by that I mean only two). I would be very grateful if you took the time to vote at the poll below and decide between the two names I've configured. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment below, I accept all recommendations and ideas.

This poll will remain active until I say so, (which means I have no idea when I will close it).

Here are the choices (so far):

Takes One to Noll One - This blog title is identical to the common phrase "takes one to know one", except I swapped in my list name. Easy to remember and straightforward? I think so.

Noll and Void - I'm especially intrigued by the opportunities posed by this blog title, because my tagline would be: Noll and Void - anything but. (Let's face it, that's also easy to remember and it's mildly humorous - which is a great combination.)

Scribentia - Sometimes, you have to stick with the classics. Although this name is the "same old, same old", if you like this blog title vote for it below. However, the purpose of this post and the corresponding poll was to find a new title for my blog.

Suggestions - If you think that your idea is a really good one, like I said before, I would love to hear it! Simply post in the comment below.

If you submit an answer to the poll, (that's right, as in clicking a button), leave a link to your blog in the comments and I will personally subscribe to your blog and comment on the most recent post or a post of your choice. Thank you in advance for all suggestions and answers submitted to the poll below!

What should the new title of my blog be?

Takes One to Noll One
Noll and Void
Sage Quotes