books, Literary Commentary, Philosophy

books || When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

As thought-provoking as this book was, I am GLAD to be done reading, discussing, and thinking about it. "When Breath Becomes Air" was written by Paul Kalanithi after he was diagnosed with cancer at 36. He was in his last year of neurosurgery residency (read: he had his whole career ahead of him) at the time. The book is interesting in many ways. First, he's both the doctor and the patient, and he shares that perspective. Second, his writing is unique in that he was a huge literature lover and just all-around a very well-read person! Third, it puts the onus of answering some of the book's big questions on you: the reader. The odds of getting cancer in a lifetime are something around 1 in 3 right now. So it reads like a simple, universal story: this is his story, but it’s just as much your story, my story, everyone’s story. Really heavy stuff. I recommend it, but be mentally ready when you read it!

ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || i know who you are because of the words you use | The Midnight Library and my own emotional voice

I just finished reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and filmed a short IGTV which I posted to Instagram yesterday. But there's one thing I briefly touched upon in those five minutes that I need to dive deeper into. There was something about his writing. The book incorporates the science-fiction delight of parallel… Continue reading writing || i know who you are because of the words you use | The Midnight Library and my own emotional voice

ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || flowers for algernon

What a book. Not only did Flowers for Algernon make me cry, but it made me think. In an explosion of ways, in all directions, about everything life and death and in between. I loved this book. I don't even know where to start, but I know I want to write about it so that… Continue reading writing || flowers for algernon

academic, ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || IB HL English WIT || Blood and Water in Blood Wedding: An Exploration of the Symbols in Spanish Culture as represented through the Lullaby

In Blood Wedding, Federico Garcia Lorca constructs an environment that is heavily weighed down by cultural expectations. As both a playwright and an accomplished theatre director, Lorca’s command of dialogue, musical drama, and stage direction is used with purpose to create this tense, eerie atmosphere. In particular, the play’s recurring intra-textual Lullaby piece gives audiences an insight into its cultural setting by mirroring the language and symbolism its characters later employ in describing their feelings of suffocation and tension. It depicts an ancient struggle – one that is still relevant enough to be passed on through the generations. And in it, we see the juxtaposition of carnal flesh and blood with inanimate trees and rivers, both symbols that serve as metaphors for the forces at odds in the play.

academic, ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || The Ghost and the Boss: Power Dynamics throughout History in Hamlet and Death of a Salesman

There’s a very good reason the most widely published books in history were works of fiction, chronicling the tales of ordinary men locked in an often fatal battle with a fellow man or a supernatural monster. Fiction captures the nuances of those ideas and imbues them in an ageless magic that enables them to last through centuries of change. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Miller’s Death of a Salesman were written hundreds of years apart, but man’s struggle for power over his own life remains constant.

academic, ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || Establishing the Cage, Foreshadowing the Singing: A commentary on Angelou’s Prologue

Not all works of literature use para-textual features in the same way – or even at all – but Maya Angelou’s prologue in her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is a feature of the text which should not be overlooked, for it sets the stage for her to share her immensely difficult but powerful personal story. The piece’s title, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is an allegory referring to her realization of the beauty and meaning held back by the cage created by her physical, psychological, and interpersonal circumstances. Knowing this to be the central tension in Angelou’s life, and therefore her autobiography, the prologue presents itself to readers with a dual purpose.

academic, ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || Parenting is like a Fencing Match: Scene Analysis in “I Know why the Caged Bird Sings”

The ultimate coming-of-age story that doesn’t shy away from even the more difficult topics, Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is immensely honest and vulnerable.

Her experience being sent from mother and father to grandmother several times throughout her life is a situation not all readers can identify with. However, the truths she shares about family, love and self-identity through these experiences are universal.
By chapter 33, both Maya and her brother Bailey have become adolescents, and their trials and tribulations are representative of those which many other adolescents face. In fact, Maya’s account of Bailey’s fight with their Mother illustrates several truths all readers can relate to when it comes to conflict between a parent and child. In particular, her use of descriptive language characteristic of a fencing match provides a lens through which to understand her mother’s and brother’s conflict, and thus the plight of our own youthful turbulent relationships with our parents.

academic, ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary

writing || The Hereditary Sickness: An Analysis of the Structure, Tensions, and Motifs of “Mad Shadows”

The passage from pages 52 to 55 of the book “Mad Shadows” by Marie-Claire Blais presents a turning point within the novel. It is in these four pages that the deterioration of the characters and superficial relationships begins to occur. An aura of sickness and wickedness spreads throughout the family – in their bodies and in their relationships – foreshadowing the falling apart of the household later in the novel.

academic, Literary Commentary, Psychology

writing || Flying Purple People Eater: Spiritual Regression in “My Father’s Garden” | IB HL English Paper One Commentary

This was my [IB, HL English, Paper 1, mock-exam] commentary essay on the poem "My Father's Garden" by David Wagoner. In my class, we wrote this as our official midterm exam, and were given two hours. I was proud of the product so I decided to share it here. I enjoyed writing the essay too… Continue reading writing || Flying Purple People Eater: Spiritual Regression in “My Father’s Garden” | IB HL English Paper One Commentary

ideas & perspectives, Literary Commentary, Psychology

writing || Charisma, Love and Psychology | 4AM Coffee-Induced Thoughts

Couldn't fall asleep Friday night because I drank a Brazilian Hazelnut Latte Espresso (gotta try new things right?) around 5pm so... this happened. If you want to skip to the good stuff: Lots of me talking about things and getting distracted by other things (1:00) How to have more charisma (10:45) What does it mean… Continue reading writing || Charisma, Love and Psychology | 4AM Coffee-Induced Thoughts