Caged In The School System

I remember in English class a few weeks ago, my teacher was going over the concept of the American Dream. So to start off, she asked my class: what is your American dream? The first student she picked on answered, “Uh… probably go to a good college.” Second student she picked on said, “Go to a good college, and then get a good job.” Third student—good college and good job. Fourth student—good college and good job. Fifth student—good college and good job. And so on. The whole time, I was just thinking, wow, much diversity.

Not that there’s anything wrong with pursuing a good college and career. After all, it does provide a good shot at a secure financial future. Yet, what troubles me is how, out of all the possibilities, everybody had the exact same dream, almost as if they all had the same parents. Or perhaps a better explanation, they were all under the same system—this system of school, grades, college, and education and its essentiality in life that has been propagandized to us students.

So was I. Back before high school, I wasn’t just under this system, I was into it. Give me a history textbook, and I would read the whole thing like it was a story, even the sections that the teacher skipped. Give me some math, and I would spend hours trying to figure out a method different from the textbook’s. I was even reading high school books like Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations in elementary school, although I didn’t know it that time. Overall, my parents had really stressed education in my life, and I embraced it willingly.

Only thing is, I did it for the grades. I only did it for college as my parents told me to do, because I believed that my future was dependent on college. Not just any college, but it had to be one of those top-notch colleges or I would become homeless. Ridiculous ideas like these permeated my mind, and as a result, my attitude towards a subject was highly reliant on grades. If I got the A+, I “loved” the subject. If not, not so happy about it.

By the end of middle school, however, I had found my passion for writing and the arts, which was only reinforced throughout high school. It was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed a subject, regardless of letter grade. I was also getting tired of just doing tests and homework; to me, it began to seem more and more retarded, because who takes tests in real life? By then, my thought process was much more matured, and I realized not all people who went to community colleges were failures, and that colleges don’t really determine your life. That success wasn’t really about high salary and good name colleges, but more about personality, sympathy, and work.

Most importantly, I realized that all that time I was a caged bird that didn’t even know it was caged. I had thought my cage was my haven, and I had docilely accepted the hand that fed me. But at that moment I refused my parent’s insistence to pursue a science path just because it paid more than a writing career, at that moment when I decided to screw worrying about college, it was the first time I looked out my cage—out of the society, the environment, my
parents, school which had carved for me a path to follow, which told me this was the way I had to do it. I looked out my cage, and I was freed.

Unfortunately, the majority of students is caged, and will likely refuse to admit they live in a cage. Hopefully, there are those who can be freed in the long run. Ultimately, the basic message is not to promote disobedience of parents or society or whatnot; they are definitely only doing what they think is best for you. Rather, the message is to change that “they think” into “you think,” to not let your vision be limited by anybody else, to make sure that your dream is definitely your dream, and to not be the same boring guy whose main goal in life is to go to a good college just because society demands so. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

This article was meant to target my school audience, which is a very academically orientated school. However, I believe this can apply to any high-performing school environment and to the many students around the world whose entire life is revolved around college and education.

Why I Chase Suffering

Recently, ISIS has beheaded two Japanese journalists. Not too long ago last year, they also beheaded two American journalists. Were they soldiers? No. All they were was just normal people who wanted to travel to less fortunate places to help out. Some may call them brave, and I guess and in a sense yes they are. I’ve been mulling about it, though, ever since I was talking about this to a friend.

There was a picture that I stumbled upon, and here it is:

Photos like this stun me. (This won the Pulitzer Prize by the way.) They attract me. The deepness, the pain, the shame– all of it just really connects this to me. If I were to pursue anything in photography, I’ d like to take pictures like these. To be honest, in the bubbled society I live in, there’s really nothing too interesting to take pictures of. I mean, I could take pictures of streets or birds or flowers and make them WOW quality, but in the end, I don’t really connect that much. It’s just a picture. And the humans at my place are too well off to take anything too interesting. But I feel places of suffering are something more attractive, something much more connective.

When I showed this to my friend, he asked me, why do you want to put yourself in harm’s way? And he pointed to the journalists in ISIS and said I could end up just like them. True, true, I’ve always wanted to live in Honduras, and I know I’d probably be killed too. But my response would be– why wouldn’t I? I don’t want to grow up like the typical person, get a job, go home, and sleep everyday. That’s boring. I don’t want to be the ordinary person who just lives in the comforts of his home. I want to step out of this society and do something.

You see, I believe everybody’s life is like a story. Most people decide to write their lives normally– college, jobs, family. But I want my story to be an epic– I want to experience experiences not normally experienced. I want to be the protagonist who goes through many tribulations but passes them. I’d rather have a short dramatic life than a long, boring life.

And it’s not just that. It’s also because, there is something beautiful about suffering. If our whole world was an Utopian society where everybody was happy and well-off, well bullshit. That’s stupid. I guess for most people it’d  be nice, but then what becomes the point of life then? Just to live happily and that’s it? There’s no purpose.

You see, when one suffers, something human comes out. Your weak places are exposed but your strong parts are revealed as well. You learn something too– you learn what it means to be human. It’s hard to explain, but maybe I’ll touch upon this later for another post.

Or maybe I’m just addicted to suffering. Ever since my incident, the only thing that really comforts me is suffering. There’s something that feels out of place when I see people laugh and have fun at my place– it’s a good feeling, but I feel something off. The balance is off– they’re having fun, but they’re not suffering as much. It’s like me and them we have it too good.

The point is, why do journalists like those beheaded by ISIS do what they do? I doubt it’s because they chase heroism. I doubt even if it’s just really only for a good cause. At least for me, it will be because I’m searching for the right place where I belong. I know it’s not where I live, and maybe it’s not in those poor places either. But I want to go where suffering goes, merely for the sake of it, even if I end up dead. Because if I don’t go, who I am will be dead. My spirit and identity will be dead.  My art won’t flourish.

Well I realized I accomplished practically nothing in this post haha. Signing off.

Education’s Competition Problem

To my readers, I am aware that I haven’t been blogging much, but thanks to a friend of mine, I will start a renewed interest in blogging more often, perhaps at least once a week, if not more. But for today, let’s start off by establishing how a typical competition works- say, something like a speech competition. There well be participants in the speech. There will also be judges. One by one, the participants go up and present,  and based on whatever rubric the judges have, each participant will earn a score. Through the score, the competitors are ranked first, second, and so on.

Now let’s take a second competition. It’s a competition of the animal kingdom. Our judge will be a human. And the competitors will be the following: a chimpanzee, a goldfish, a giraffe, an elephant, and another human. And what skill will they be competing in? The ability to climb a tree. It is this competition that will supposedly determine the future success rate of these competitors.

Now, we let this glorious competition begin. First, we have the chimpanzee. Dam, he can climb! Alright, he passes. Oh, then we have the goldfish. Nope, he fails. A giraffe– yea he can reach high, but he can’t climb. So much for the elephant. And the human– almost, but not as good as the chimp.

So obviously, the chimpanzee is gonna be really successful in his future survival, and all the other organisms can just give up in life. That’s what this competition is saying; that’s what our educational system is saying.

And that’s the precise problem with our educational system. It’s competition-based. It tells who wins and who loses based on only one asset of skills. But is the giraffe, elephant, and human really going to fail in life just because they can’t climb a tree? The giraffe has a high neck to make up for it. The elephant may not be agile, but it definitely has serious strength. And humans- why they’re the most dominant species on Earth right now. Same with the goldfish. As Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a goldfish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

The same goes with us students. Our educational system aims to procure the most successful people in the future, and the way the system determines that is via a set standard. Oh, you have a higher SAT score? You have better grades? Alright, go ahead to a good college. You’re not doing so well in school? I’m sorry, you won’t be doing so well in your future. But really? As you can see, that’s definitely not the case. Grades, scores, and the amount of extracurricular activities– all those things colleges look for– they don’t tell anything. Once again, they test only one asset of skills. They miss out on the student’s hidden potential.

Each of us is unique– in the way we think, in the way we act, in the way we write, in the way we talk. There is no set standard, no set rubric, on what defines good or not. Each of us is good in one way or another. To repeat, we are all geniuses. So the aim of the educational system should not be to determine who’s better or not based on one scale, but to supply an environment where each and every individual can have his or her genius shine out.

To be honest, I don’t have a good solution. But this is a problem that will require more than one mind to solve. It will require a collaborate effort from students, parents, and society as a whole.

LUDOVICI: Superiority of Art over Science

TitusWu:

Something I totally agree with.

Originally posted on The Great Conversation:

Science has bestowed many benefits on mankind; and therefore, there are a large number of people who revere and glorify it. An article posted on science.ie in June of 2014 expresses the sentiments of these admirers of Science. “Science empowers us to shape every aspect of our world. Thanks to the power of science we can improve our health and wellbeing, explore new worlds, and make our world a better place; the only limits are those we imagine!”

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More Than Just A Gift

Christmas—what is it? Look up the dictionary and it will say: “A legal holiday celebrated on Dec. 25 and an occasion for exchanging gifts.” So, according to the dictionary, it is about presents. I mean, why else do people flock the stores during Black Friday to buy gifts? Why else is the most anticipating time of Christmas the moment you get to open your presents? Why else are the wrappings and bow ties so delicate and fancy?

The aspect of gifts seems to as well dominate many Christmas stories. Santa—he delivers gifts. Frosty—in the end, the antagonist gives in because he wants gifts. Grinch—he tries to take away gifts but realizes he’s wrong. Same with The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Nutcracker, and other stories—just gifts, gifts, gifts. As a result, I grew up believing that the meaning of Christmas laid underneath all those gift wrappings. The meaning of Christmas had to be gifts.

The Christmas Carol is, as well, no exception from this theme of presents.

I remember in 7th grade, my English teacher made us read The Christmas Carol. I was shocked—I had read the story before during elementary school, so why was a middle school teacher making us read this? The plot was fairly simple for any little kid to understand. A cranky old guy named Scrooge hates giving presents and is very egocentric. During the night before Christmas, he sleeps and encounters three ghosts: one of the past, present, and future. With each ghost, Scrooge goes through many experiences, and by the time he leaves the last ghost, he realizes that it’s better to be nice and give gifts. Moral of the story? Give gifts. Seriously. This was just like any naive children’s book with “inspiring” generic messages like “Believe in yourself” or “Never give up.”

By this time, I wasn’t even bothering with the story in class. I knew all there was to know. I mean, after all, this is just another dumb children’s tale, I thought to myself.

Turns out I was the dumb one myself. After reading the story, our teacher made us watch the Tim Burton’s movie version of The Christmas Carol, and suddenly, what seemed pathetic on paper became heart-stirring on screen. The words on paper came to life. The symbolism, the imagery, the contrast, but most importantly, the raw feelings one could get from it—the frustration Scrooge felt, the intense sadness of the poor, and the joy when Scrooge corrects his wrongs—all of that connected with me intensely.

So I realized that the greatest gift is the spirit of giving itself. But let me define what this “spirit” is—it is the very feeling of joy that one experiences when helping out others. It is also the very hole in one’s heart when one sees people in need. It is the very ecstasy I felt when I saw Scrooge, a sinful man, change and develop into a better character. In other words, it is feeling itself—the type that bonds one with another. That is Christmas.

It is a bit ironic that the whole time I was reading The Christmas Carol without feeling—without Christmas itself. Only through the movie could I feel it. Had I read the story with more emotion instead of regarding it as dumb, I would have perhaps felt the connection from the first instance. However, just like Scrooge, I changed for the better. From my materialistic view of Christmas, I finally saw the emotional value behind it.

Each gift you will get during Christmas is like the story The Christmas Carol. Initially, I saw it as just as story, and so can you see your gift as simply a gift. But to truly understand Christmas, don’t just view it as a gift, but try to see the emotional meaning behind it, the love and effort made, just like how I saw the emotional connection from the movie.

Too many times in our daily lives, whether it is a story or a gift, we miss out on this emotional connection. We usually take things at face value, not realizing a deeper level behind everything that we encounter. Christmas is the time to remember that a gift is more than a gift, that a story is more than the words one see, that one’s family is more than just the people it comprises of. Christmas, once again, is the emotion and feeling between people. Once we realize this we can truly appreciate and understand the meaning of Christmas.

Rant #1

Sigh.

Idk. Im tired of life.

You know, these glasses of mine. I’ve seen through them so much. My ups and downs, my anger, my pain, my everything. But they were always clean.

Now, I don’t know if im drunk or whatnot, but I see a scratch on them.  Yup, it’s not noticeable, but it’s there alright. Just like the one on my heart. I guess I can ignore it, and not care about it. But I can’t. It’s right there. Bothering me. Itching me.  I try to get rid of it with water, clothing, anything, but it still stays there. Sigh. I give up.

Sometimes, you just gotta let the scratch be a scratch. It’s like a chemical reaction. Once it’s taken place, there’s no going back. Entropy, they say.

But there is one way to solve this. Maybe if I get new glasses that have no scratch and I can throw the old ones away. Wouldn’t it be nice? Maybe then I could be at peace. Only problem is, these glasses won’t let go. They’re glued to my ears, my head, my face. Glued to my fucking existence.

Fuck.

I love that word. Well, it’s a bad word, they say. Well, all the more reason to love it. Who fucking cares if a word is bad or not? Why do I have to be in a fucking system that determines what’s right and what’s wrong, what I should do or what I shouldn’t? Just let me fuck everything over and do it my own way.

Fuck.

Maybe I am drunk right now from reading all those Gothic stories about drunk people killing black cats. I just don’t get the purpose of reading Gothics stories in English class- what kind of life lesson do they teach? Besides that all of us are evil? Please. And then all this stupid analyzing and shit. Really just turns my stomach inside out. It’s like teaching a bird what its wing is constructed of but never letting it fly.

Fuck again.

Now I remember two days ago, I was actually feeling the desire to get high on drugs. I was really stressed out, and my brain was hurting like hell. And all I could do was think about all the stress I was having. And I was stuck in that thinking. And I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if someone gave me some pot and let me get high, then I’d be forced to forget about all this stress? Then I’d be in my own dream land, and for once, have a good time?

Yea, I remembered. I felt like insane, like an animal craving for something. Drugs. Yea, I know it’s bad. But fuck. Stress is like that inner evil you see in Gothic stories, this “spirit of Perverseness,” where this inner evil is something that’s a part of you. And I remember how it really became  a part of me, this deep inside longing.

Oh fuck.

Just realized I’m kinda like Obito in Naruto. How the girl he loves dies when he was young, and then he’s like, omg my world is gone.  So he attempts to take over the world and tries to create a world where everything we want exists as an illusion. But it’s an illusion world. Kinda like drugs, don’t you think. Guess Naruto is deeper than I thought.

Sigh. Girls.

I feel  guilty kinda saying this, but there’s this girl I like. She kinda reminds me of Obito’s girl, Rin. But she’s really cheerful, deep, and thoughtful. I remember one time, we meant to do a high five, but I don’t know how, it became clasped hands. And in that moment, it was like a pause. Wow.

But fuck. All the girls I’ve liked by a law of nature won’t like me back. So I shouldn’t bother.

Apparently, this went from glasses to girls. I must be drunk. I’ll end here,  I guess.

Ebola And The Most Deadliest Enemy

When one thinks of a deadly enemy, one usually thinks of something big, strong, fast, maybe something like a dinosaur or a huge monster. Or one might think of aliens with sophisticated technology invading the Earth. I remembering reading such a thing like this in the science fiction novel War of the Worlds, where Martians with their superior intelligence and technology sweep in to invade the Earth. Humans, with their primitive canons and artillery, proved to be no match for these aliens, and were destroyed quickly city by city. All hope seemed to be lost for humanity, then suddenly the aliens started dying mysteriously and soon, the Martians retreated back to Mars.

What was it that was killing off these superior aliens? Was it that humans had suddenly innovated a superior weapon? No. Rather, the book tells us that “All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God, in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth.” Yes, what eventually stopped these aliens was not any super duper awesome gun, but rather bacteria. 

Or you can add viruses to the mix. Which in the end proves that in this survival of the fittest between two intelligent species, bacteria and viruses came out to be the most powerful. Although that may be fiction, even right now in the real world are we seeing viruses beating the crap out of supposedly the most dominant species on the planet. Just look at West Africa, with the Ebola virus.

Now here’s how viruses basically work. A virus enters the body. It sorta tricks a cell into letting it into the cell because of matching receptors. Once in the cell, it can either be dormant and not do anything for a while, just letting the cell help reproduce its viral RNA/DNA, or it can use the cell to produce more viruses, then breaks apart the cell so that these new viruses can affect other cells. And then the process starts all over again.  Now here’s how the Ebola virus works- same process, but deadlier results. First, it just seems like a fever. Then, you start getting pain in the neck and the abdomen, you start getting headaches, you start throwing up. The real pain comes when you start bleeding like hell- not just externally, but internally. And then in around a week, you can expect yourself to die.

To make this virus sound even more deadly, there is no cure and the survival rate is low. And in West Africa, more than 1,200 people have died, with the virus having spread to three countries already, and possibly more. Now, what exactly makes this virus deadly?

1) It’s small. We think that bigger is stronger, but when your enemy is as small as a virus, you can’t tell where the hell it is, but it’s still all around you. Because it’s small, studying your enemy (or the virus) is not just difficult, but even dangerous, given you can be the next victim.

2) It’s contagious and spreads fast. Like I said, in around one week, one can easily die of the virus. This Ebola virus spreads much quicker and more efficiently inside a body than any typical virus. Not just inside the body, but outside the body as well. Bodily contact, direct and indirect, are all means for the virus to spread. There have been even cases where nurses and doctors under full protective body suit are still infected.

Ebola Virus

Fortunately, two American doctors who were infected have been successfully treated due to an experimental medicine. This has raised hopes that this might eventually be a cure for Ebola. But stopping this virus will take more than medicine, because

3) Fear. Because Ebola is small and not much is known about it, myths have been surrounding this virus in Africa. People who have been infected and cured have been stigmatized when they return home. Many think that it’s the doctors that introduced the virus, and thus this hinders the ability to effectively carry out treatments. Take for instance last week, where rioters frightened by Ebola rampaged a healthcare facility treating Ebola, forcing many Ebola-infected people to flee to other places, further spreading the virus. This and many other nonsense myths about the virus underscore the fear and superstition underlying this virus, and this is perhaps the number one reason why the virus outbreak has not been stopped and is still spreading. Yes, ironically, humans- not the virus itself- are worsening this Ebola disaster. The only cure for this is increased public education about the disease.

And so I will end here. But to me, reason number three brings up a good point. Perhaps the most deadliest enemy is not any creature, whether that be an alien or a virus. Maybe, the most deadliest enemy is perhaps ourselves.

My 2nd Love Poem Part 2

If you haven’t checked out my last post yet, do so. In that post, I briefly explained the background of the poem in which I was writing it. Today, however, I want to go further in-depth, and then perhaps maybe get into a theoretical aspect of writing poetry.

One thing I want to first note off is that for this poem, unlike any others I have written, is that I actually get quite literal. In my first line, I say “she’s looking at me”, then later on I continue on with “Her head turned/ From the corner of her eyes”, and soon I have another “Her eyes scan over me,”, and I end the poem with a “And I solemnly realize/Even if she does like me and even if I like her back/We will never be together.” All of these are literal descriptions of what I saw from her while I was writing this poem or what I was thinking.

The second big difference is that I did not attempt to put any fancy smancy literary devices like I usually do. For those who have read my past poems before, you might have noticed a ton of symbolism in those poems. I actually made an effort to put those in, because I had a belief that symbolism was the ultimate essential piece of literature and was what made things beautiful. I HAD that belief. As you can see in this poem, I made no attempt. I just wrote what I automatically felt.

So what made me shift from symbolic to more literal? Music. Nowadays, there is the general gist that contemporary music is not deep, that it is dirty, that it is just people singing and rapping out shit. And as a child, I totally agreed with that. I barely saw any symbolism or any of that stuff in say, Ariana Grande’s music. Her songs oftentimes are just a repetition of  the words “I love you” in various forms.

Take this sample from Ariana’s “Right There”-

You know what I need (aye)/I know what you like, (aye)/Put it all together baby/We could be alright (hey)/How could this be wrong/When it feels so right/Yeah, I really love you/I really love you (oh)
And I’ll never let you go…

Here, the lyrics are seriously just like literal talking, and I don’t see any artsy kind of stuff. There’s no symbolism I see or any literary devices I see. Yet guess what? I still like the song.

And why is this? Because sometimes people don’t get your symbolism the way you see it. The saying “as big as a rhino” can be perceived differently. I might see it mostly in terms of size, while another guy might see it mostly in terms of roughness, etc. Sometimes, people don’t even catch it or get it at all. But with literal words like “I love you,” people understand what one is talking about.

Another good thing about being literal is that people can relate to it more. Whereas symbolism and literary devices seem to be relegated to poets, authors, and literary artists, being literal is what people do in everyday life. Therefore, people understand it more. When a guy asks a girl out, he usually doesn’t say, ” Will you float with me above the clouds and bathe with me in water?” etc. He will simply say. ” Will you go out with me?”

And then this concept of writing poetry without thinking but just feeling. Just doing so, I feel it captures the emotion more- the way my heart leaped and the way I felt scared when she looked at me. Whereas if I had thought too much about how to incorporate symbols and other stuff, I would have gotten lost in the thought and forget about the initial feeling that propelled me to write the poem. This is perhaps a new concept that I would have to explore more.

But overall, I realize that today’s music is not less deep. Just more relatable.  Yet, I believe the best way is to achieve a balance between this literal-ness and symbolic-ness. In my next post, I will shift away from art and move into something more science-related.

My 2nd Love Poem Part 1

So, I have this sneaking suspicion this girl from a class of mine likes me or is interested in me, and as the summer passes, it’s getting more and more obvious. Even my female friends based on the hints have told me she does. But today, the signs were too obvious, and it made me feel something uneasy. And just like that, I started writing while ignoring my teacher teaching. Below is the poem, and in my next post, I will talk about what I did different in this poem from any other poem I wrote and go more in-depth.

A Girl Who Likes Me

She’s looking at me

Giving me glances, like

Light feet tapping the water,

Prancing along

Footprints embedded on my heart.

The way she looks at me

Her head turned

From the corner of her eyes

I am the prey

She the lioness

I feel violated, breached, trespassed

Me overturned, lying on my shell

Underbelly exposed

Her eyes scan over me.

When our eyes meet, she quickly looks away.

………….

But at the same time,

My heart dances, jitters,

Leaps, yelps,

Smiles, giggles,

With a little skip

Why, she likes me!

But then a roadblock—I stop.

I look up at the cloudy sky,

And I solemnly realize

Even if she does like me and even if I like her back,

We will never be together.

The Loss of Passion, From The Grapes Of Wrath

Before I start, please check out and like my new photography page Titus Wu Photography! One of my upcoming posts will be about my take on the art of photography.

As for now, there’s this passage from the novel The Grapes of Wrath that I want to share.

The houses were left vacant on the land, and the land was vacant because of this. Only the tractor sheds of corrugated iron, silver and gleaming, were alive; and they were alive with metal and gasoline and oil, the disks of the plow shining. The tractors had lights shining, for there is no day and night for a tractor and the disks turn the earth in the darkness and they glitter in the daylight. And when a horse stops work and goes into the barn there is a life and a vitality left, there is a breathing and a warmth, and the feet shift on the straw, and the jaws champ on the hay, and the ears and the eyes are alive. There is a warmth of life in the barn, and the heat and smell of life. But when the motor of a tractor stops, it is as dead as the ore it came from. The heat goes out of it like the living heat that leaves a corpse. Then the corrugated iron doors are closed and the tractor man drives home to town, perhaps twenty miles away, and he need not come back for weeks or months, for the tractor is dead. And this is easy and efficient. So easy that the wonder goes out of land and the working of it, and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation. For nitrates are not the land, nor phosphates and the length of fiber in the cotton is not the land. Carbon is not man, nor salt nor water nor calcium. He is all these, but he is much more, much more; and the land is so much more than its analysis. That man who is more than his chemistry.. turning his plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch….knows the land that is more than his analysis. But the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry….when the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land.

When I first came upon this passage, my first reaction was something that was stirring inside my heart. The lyrical rhythm of this passage is sort of like the beat of a heart- a beat of something living, something alive. I love how John Steinbeck (the author) repeats the same words over and over again, but in a poetic way, and with the intent of emphasizing the concepts behind those words. His focus on detail and his doing it so beautifully are what makes him such an unique outstanding writer. For example, he talks about how the horse is “breathing”, “[its] feet shift on the straw,” and how its “jaws champ on the hay,” and all of this creates a vivid, living image for me.

But from the content of this passage, we see a dilemma that was being faced in the past and we so face now- modernization of farming versus the old ways of farming. Using technology versus working by hand. As we see in our everyday lives, the benefits technology brings are enormous- we can spread ideas and communicate faster than ever, we are able to access and create many things easier than ever, and we have made our lives much more comfortable because of technology. As stated in this passage, “…this is easy and efficient.”

However, there are drawbacks to these benefits, which Steinbeck laments, how “the wonder goes out of the land….and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation.” Using the beautiful images of plowing, kneeling into the earth, and farming, Steinbeck is praising and mourning the deep connection between the farmer and his land. This concept I find fascinating, given I have never seen a farm before, but it reminds me of the same passion between a worker and his job, something that is so rare in this industrial world.

And then how Steinbeck breathes life into the land by comparing it to man, how the land is more than just its compositions. Where is this type of passion these days? I see almost none. By passion, I don’t mean having an interest or liking towards a subject, I mean what Steinbeck means- seeing the subject as life. When I write, take photos, listen to music, I see it as breathing, as an organism. But most people now just do their jobs for the money and nothing more, whereas with these farmers, they saw their land as their own family.

But was Steinbeck blaming technology? No. He was blaming the human greed behind all of it, and how technology has furthered that greed. Before the Industrial Revolution, everything was made by hand. Jugs, baskets, etc. and for those craftsmen, it was art. Once technology and the factory settled in, all of that was nearly eliminated. Why? Because technology made things easier, and thus, cheaper. And by wiping out craftsmen, it was also wiping out a way of art, a way of passion. “He goes home, and his home is not the land.”

But for me, it’s something else. My school is a very academically-strong school, but I feel for the wrong reasons. I ask a friend of mine, why did you join that club? He says, for college. Why do you go to college? For a good job. Why a good job? So I can make more money and have a happier life. In the end, it’s that want for money and for a wealthier material lifestyle. But I see that because of this, they don’t see the passion and the life between them and what they learn. They may achieve that materialistic lifestyle, but in the end, they’re giving up on so much more.

Steinbeck mourned the loss of this passion he was seeing. It’s so sad that it still exists today.