Reading Notes: 1001 Nights (A)

  • I want to see this from Scheherazade’s point of view. Why has she decided to do this? What changes? Has she been planning this for a while? Is she scared?
  • I like that the man was honorable enough to actually return to face the Genii, but I wonder what happened during that year he put his affairs in order. How did his family react? What plans did they make?

So I really like this story so far, but I find that I’m more interested in the frame story than any of the individual stories. I wonder what the Sultan is thinking as Scheherazade keeps telling story after story. Has he changed his mind about her? Does he understand what she’s trying to do? What did he think about killing all the young women he married? I think this story is much more interesting than the stories the Sultana tells.


Bibliography: 1001 Nights, translated by Andrew Lang. Web Source.

Image: Scheheradzade by Édouard Frédéric Wilhelm Richter. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: The Iliad (B)

  • I don’t know if this counts as a reading note, but now I really want to watch Troy
  • Athena is really a jerk in Hector’s death scene. I wonder what would have happened without her
  • I wand Andromache to fight for vengeance for Hector. Even if it’s just shooting arrows from the walls of the city, I want her to take her husband’s place leading the soliders
  • I absolutely hate that it ends with Hector’s burial. That’s not much of an ending at all! I think it would be much better to end with the Trojan Horse, or with Aeneas escaping

Bibliography: The Iliad by Homer. Web Source.

Image: Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion by Franz Matsch. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: The Iliad (A)

  • Did Helen want to marry Menelaüs or was she forced to? Did she want to go with Paris or did he kidnap her? I want details!
  • I like Achilles, but I want to know why he is favored by Athena and Hera both
  • I want to know what changed Achilles’ mind about the two lots in life his mother had offered him
  • I wonder what Helen is thinking during all of these battles. Does she care that all of these people are dying because of her? I want to see it from her point of view

Bibliography: The Iliad by Homer. Web Source

Image: Helen of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: Cupid and Psyche (B)

Today I finished reading Cupid and Psyche for Mythology and Folklore.

Thoughts:

  • Honestly I’d love to write this from Venus’ point of view. She seems so dang angry, I want to get in her head and figure out why
  • What if it wasn’t ants that helped Psyche. I think it would be funny if Vulcan sent some of his little creations to sort the pile, just to spite Venus. They always had a rocky relationship. Or if she did something crazy that technically fit the instructions, but wasn’t what Venus had actually asked for
  • I think it would be really funny for Pandora to narrate the part of the story where Psyche opens the jar of “Divine Beauty.” I think she would have a lot to say to someone who should have learned from her mistakes
  • Then “Wedding Feast” portion of the story is so rushed! I want more detail or, at the very least, a window into Venus’ thoughts

Bibliography: Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius. Web Source.

Image: Olga Fersen on a Donkey by Karl Brullov. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: Cupid and Psyche (A)

For this week I decided to read the tale of Cupid and Psyche from the classical unit. Here are my thoughts.

  • I think the sisters have an interesting perspective and it would be cool to see the story from their point of view. I know that C. S. Lewis wrote a version like this, but I’ve never read it so I’m sure I could write a different, unbiased version
  • It would also be really cool to see this from Cupid’s point of view. What is he thinking when he can’t let Psyche see him? What is he thinking when she looks anyway?
  • I know it’s kind of bad that the Psyche tricked both of her sisters into commiting suicide, but if they’d been less awful humans, they wouldn’t have jumped anyway. I like the poetic justice in it. Although she isn’t in the story, parts of the story would be interesting from the goddess of revenge, Nemisis’ point of view.

These are just my thoughts from part A of the reading. I don’t know if I’ll use this for the storytelling later this week, but we’ll see how it goes!


Bibliography: Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius and translated by Tony Kline. Found here.

Image: Justice (Dike, on the left) and Divine Vengeance (Nemesis, right) are pursuing the criminal murderer. By Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, 1808. Source: Wikimedia

Reading Notes: Anthology

I finished my first weeks reading! Let me tell you, some of those stories were interesting. But I think a few of them have potential to be the source for my first storytelling assignment later this week. I think I have three different options for my story, based on the readings.

The first one I could base it on is the Metamorphosis story about Pygmalion. I like the idea of this story, and I’ve actually read it before, but it bothers me that so little is revealed of what the characters are thinking. I also think the story would be improved with more details after the statue comes to life. It’s kind of creepy when it just ends with Pygmalion kissing her right as she becomes human. So I think it would be interesting to give it a go at improving the story.

I also really liked the character dynamic in the Trickster story about the Jackal. This character reminds me of the chaotic good theory, where someone strives to help people and is willing to disregard the law if necessary. I think that would be a cool trait in a main character, and a nice challenge to depict in a realistic way.

Finally, the Beauty and the Beast story caught my eye. It’s always been one of my favorite fairy tales and I’ve read countless different versions. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. I’m not sure how I felt about it, but I think it definitely needs more detail. It didn’t really make much sense as is, but it would be cool to add my own ideas into it.

All of these would be cool to work on, so we will see where inspiration strikes when I get to work later this week.


Image: Generic stock photo of book. Source: Pixabay

Reading Options

Let’s talk about what I’m going to be doing this semester. I really like that I get to choose what to read each week because I know that I’ll enjoy whatever I pick, so I’m really excited to get started! I was looking through our “Untextbook” and some of the sections really caught my eye.

  • Cupid and Psyche looked really interesting. I’ve always been curious about Greek mythology and I’ve read a story about this couple in the past. I think it would be cool to get more details and context about them.
  • This section about Women Saints looks especially interesting, because I’m always open to reading about awesome women who were ahead of their time, especially when they also rely on a strong faith to help them through.
  • The Arabian Nights is something that I’ve always wanted to ready but I’ve never really found a good translation of it. I’m really excited to get started on this one in particular because I’ve read a fractured story about Scheherazade and she seemed like an awesome woman!

These are obviously just a few that caught my attention, and I’m excited to read a lot more than just these stories. But this seems like a great way to start!


Image: Stock photo of book. Source: Pexels

Ministry Training (ACMNP) and a Return to the Beginning

This weekend I attended the national training conference for A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) up in the Rockies of Colorado. I had the utmost pleasure of meeting my ministry team to the Grand Canyon for the first time and I already feel myself falling in love with our dysfunction. During our free time, I set out to hike on my own and was quickly engulfed by four other ministry members who refused to let me find the freedom in solidarity I thought I was chasing. We summited a peak that was supposed to take two hours, so naturally, we did it in one. The second we set out at that boisterous pace, huffing and puffing, I thought about the palaces I had been summiting just months early and realized “this is a piece of cake” even though my sensitive sinus cavity screamed with the change in altitude. Mind over matter is not just a mantra used for the weak who capture our pity. When we reached the top, someone, I don’t remember who, said, “you guys just want to read and chill?” and that’s how I knew I found my people. I threw up a hammock between some rigid pines and fell into a Spanish story of love and mystery and regret while the sky dusted it’s icy blessing onto my head.

We had hiked the first mountain that ever captured my undivided attention some 8 years ago. I remember how that peak flirted with my competitive side and how the bigger, older, stronger boys won me over to loving the dynamic landscape by daring me to sprint down the mountainside with them. They must have seen that subtle flicker in my eyes of someone who is never satisfied and whispered, “let’s go” before going full force with the pull of gravity. And me in all baby-of-the-family mindedness had the nerve to think I could keep up with them. I was right. When we reached the bottom eons before the rest of the group they all turned around to me and laughed, not at me, but in surprise. One of the boys leaned over to me and said “keep flying, kid”. At the time, I might not have known what he meant, but I think my heart kept that promise anyways. I remember how we parted ways from there and never shared a moment of depth again. I remember how one of them died a few years later and how that was my first clue into the fact that death doesn’t see in the spectrum of age but rather in the black and white of “yes or no”. I hope he thought about flying down that hillside when he laid his head back for the very last time.

My ministry team kept things slow on our way down that old familiar peak and even though I was grateful they had chosen me to go along at all, I realized I have a thing or two to teach them this summer about choosing to go fast simply for the sake of going fast. About speed for the sake of speed. About flying for the sake of flying. But, we had just met so I kept my mouth shut like I always do and hoped it would be enough just to write it down later.

My team makes a lot of sense to me and I’m not really sure why. I suppose it’s because their quirkiness seeped through their cracks just enough to not make me feel incessantly uncomfortable in my own skin like I do with most new people. I felt that I didn’t have to keep my mummy wrappings on so tight, that I could loosen them up enough to breathe even though a bit of weird and dark and sarcastic and spacey slipped out. Heaven help them the day I cut the wrappings off in full this summer.

We learned many things about how to do effective ministry in a national park and throughout it all God spoke to me and said, “this is what you’ve been looking for” and I believe Him. I believe Him in that He sent me to the place of my roots in Christianity to tell me that this season of my life isn’t an escape like nearly every other season has been. He sang Job 5:8-11 to me all weekend long saying “little thorn bush of mine, it’s high time you realize you’ve got flowers coming alongside your thorns and they will make each other beautiful. stop acting like you were meant to scare everyone away”. I realized that I am the earth He has been pouring rain on and that this period of sunshine – hot, dusty, desert sunshine – will go hand in hand with that rain and make flowers pop up on my skin previously thought to be barren.

I am still hopelessly afraid of that canyon; I keep having dreams that he reaches up and swallows me whole. I think it stems from the fact that I haven’t been able to place my hands and forehead upon this type of land yet to ask it for forgiveness and permission. I’m worried he will speak to me in a language the mountains never used. I’m worried I’ll like it more. All I know is that I fully plan on standing on that rim with my guitar singing songs yet unwritten into his open palms and hopefully, he will believe that I mean good.

I’m overly excited to get the summer started, to be back with my team, to be back surrounded by Christians who treat the earth as a sacred place and not a servant. I’m ready to be challenged and lonely and swallowed and completely whole in a place where most people aren’t. I want to get lost in it all, I think I already am.

Books that Impacted Me

Now that midterms are behind us, students everywhere are once again finding time to do things that aren’t schoolwork – sleep, for example. One thing I have found I suddenly have time for again is reading books I’m not assigned for class. This got me thinking about the books that I’ve read that shaped my taste in literature and shaped me as a person. Of course, I couldn’t pick just one, so my top four are listed below.

  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloud-atlas

I read Cloud Atlas at what, in hindsight, was a very important time for me in terms of developing my voice and style as a writer. My writer friends raved about it — for good reason. This postmodern masterwork, comprised of six different narratives that “stack” on top of each other, redefined my ideas about how a story can be told. As technically driven as the book is, at its core is the honesty of human connection that drives all great art. Combined, the two create one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

      2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

ahwosg

Having been truly introduced to postmodern literature with Cloud Atlas, and to Dave Eggers with Zeitoun, I jumped at this book when my high school creative writing teacher dropped it on my desk. It, too, changed the way I saw written storytelling. This book did things I’d only seen before in experimental theatre. It is meta, it is self-aware, it is technically innovative. It is also the first  nonfiction book I’d ever actually read for pleasure and enjoyed.

      3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  slaughterhouse-five

While the others listed here are significant to my development as a storyteller, Slaughterhouse-five is more significant to my development as a person. This is one of those books that you walk away from feeling  profoundly changed. It was for me, at least. Not only is it one of the great American anti-war novels, and a great work of modern fiction, it is a book with much to say — if you are willing to listen.

       5. 225 Plays by the New York Neo-Futurists

225-plays

If Cloud Atlas redefined how I saw literature, 225 Plays redefined how I see theatrical storytelling. These plays are all part of an aesthetic called Neo-Futurism, which is a form of experimental theatre defined by total authenticity, living in the moment, and real conflict. These plays took everything I thought I knew about theatre and turned it on its ear. In the process, I was opened up to a plethora of new ideas of what theatre could be, and the type of art I am free to create.