The Tempest (review)

Recently I read, for the first time, Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, and I was truly spell bound. A comedy filled with love, lust and revenge, it is one of the most artfully written plays I have ever read, and I could easily recommend it, even to one who is not usually concerned with the classics.

The basic storyline follows a father and daughter who are stranded on a desert island, some fifteen years before the beginning of the play. They were put there after being shipped off by the main character’s brother- Prospero, the rightful duke of Milan, exiled by his own flesh and blood, Antonio, with his three year old daughter Miranda in his arms. On the island, they find Caliban, a savage (whom Prospero educates and “civilises”), and Ariel, a spirit of the wind, imprisoned by Caliban’s mother, Sycorax.             The storyline begins with a huge storm- a tempest- which throws Alonzo (the king of Naples), Ferdinand (his son), Sebastian (Alonzo’s brother) and Antonio (Prospero’s brother and the usurping Duke of Milan) onto the very same island. Little do they know that the storm was brought about by Prospero who was exiled in the first place for practicing the dark arts, and controlled by Ariel who is under the instruction of Prospero after having been freed by him from a pine cone, where Sycorax left him.

The play follows a series of events as Prospero separates the group [which includes Gonzalo, an honest councillor and previously the friend of the duke, as well as Trinculo, a jester, and Stephano, a drunken butler] and plays with them, getting his revenge for what they did to him so long ago.

 

Ferdinand finds Miranda, and the two fall in love. Their story, in my opinion, rivals that of Romeo and Juliet. Theirs, at least, has a happy ending.

Ferdinand: Admir’d Miranda! Indeed the top of admiration; worth what’s dearest to the world! … O you, so perfect and so peerless, are created of every creature’s best! Miranda: The jewel in my dower, – I would not wish any companion in the world but you; Nor can imagination form a shape, besides yourself, to like of.

She has never seen a man before in her life, apart from her father and Caliban, yet feels she does not need to ever see any other men after having met Ferdinand. He has met and liked several women, having seen so many, but none have been as perfect as this one. It’s truly the epitomy of romantic fiction, in my opinion.

Then we have Trinculo and Stephano, who meet Caliban. Caliban, a savage who has never seen anyone but his mother (an evil witch), Prospero (a hard master), and Miranda (who he likes, but tried to rape and so hates him), believes Stephano to be a god, especially as Stephano carries with him a bottle of alcohol.

Caliban: I’ll swear upon that bottle to be thy true subject; for the liquor is not earthly.

Apart from watching what happens with the hilarious trio, especially as they get messed about with Ariel, the question arises of what Caliban is. He is, at root, a savage, however has been educated by Prospero- some of his verses in the play are amazingly beautiful and poetic, but some of his actions, such as the way he acts towards Miranda, are very primal.

The last group upon the island are the nobles. Alonzo grieves over his son, who he believes has drowned, and the other two plan ways to kill him so that they can take his throne. This story is also very interesting as the trio are forced to think about what they’ve done through little actions of Prospero and Ariel throughout the play. By the end, they’re driven mad by the guilt of what they’ve done and how horrible they’ve been. Prospero, however, is implored by his sprite to set them free, and in the end decides to forgive them.

Ariel: Your charm so strongly works ‘em, that if you now beheld them, your affections would become tender. Prospero: Dost thou think so, spirit? Ariel: Mine would, sir, were I human. Prospero: And mine shall.

Being a comedy, the play is full of humour and life- thankfully, it also has a happy ending. The story lines are all interesting and weave together, and in the end, they all discover a sort of freedom. The main ideas of the play are ones we perhaps all think to ourselves- the limits of forgiveness, the adventure of love and the worth of humanity.

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“Frank” (review)

Frank is a movie about a very talented, mentally disabled man who is the lead singer in a band. It is one of the most interesting movies I’ve ever seen, and I think that anyone who has the chance to should watch it.

The movie doesn’t contain any sex scenes, not much swearing and no violent scenes [although there are some confronting moments in the film], yet it is rated R in America [I think its rated MA15+ in Australia]. The movie can be very powerful in moments. I’m not exactly saying whether that’s a good or a bad thing, though.

The thing about the movie is that it addresses so many issues in so short a space of time that by the end, one can feel overwhelmed- I certainly did. The movie left me reeling for about half an hour, during which time I watched a mind numbingly stupid film to let my brain rest.

During it, the ideas behind popularity and being famous are addressed, as well as why some people that are so talented do not get the recognition they deserve. What is privacy and what is the true point of doing anything at all – is for yourself, for others or for fame?

I would still recommend watching the movie, however, despite not knowing how I feel about it myself. It definitely made me think and see the world a little differently. It was wonderful in some ways, though. It was so light and fluffy, or so surprisingly humourous, and that was mixed in with mental illness and selfishness and sadness.

Definitely worth a look.

P.S. Frank wears a giant head for almost the entire movie. Don’t look up what the actor [Michael Fassbender] looks like- I reckon that’d just ruin it. Wait until the end. Also, he acts superbly even with the head on, and I commend him for that.

Studying Tips

It’s always nice to get a few tips on how to make studying easier, so here are a few that I found helped me.

  • Use colours. This could come in the form of using coloured pens, highlighters or seperaters in your binder. This engages the creative side of your brain, as the more technical one only works in one colour [it literally sees everything in black and white], so you’ll remember things easier if you work the other side to its potential as well.
  • Another trick for remembering things is to chew gum while you’re studying and then doing it again during the test. The taste and motion can help bring up things as you’re going through similar motions.
  • Stay organised. That may mean separate folders, different sleeves in your folders for different subjects, colour coding things, or other methods you have. This saves a lot of time while you’re looking for things, as well as help separate different pieces of information in your mind. Also, cleaning your workspace helps with concentration.
  • Have something blue with you- paint your nails, get a blue pencil case. This sounds a bit airy fairy, but blue is proven to help with concentration and memory.
  • Eat chocolate. Also proven to improve concentration and memory, as well as the fact that you can use it as positive reinforcement for working so hard [that last part isn’t so scientifically proven].
  • Take regular breaks [maybe once every hour or so]. This helps your brain relax, and process the information you’ve just given it. You’ll absorb more if you take breaks than you will doing your studying hard core over long periods of time.
  • Paraphrase everything. You don’t need long complicated words. Rephrase everything so that you understand it and give yourself less to remember. Furthermore, there is no point in writing down things you already know or understand. This is where people trip up.
  • Apparently there is no scientific evidence to support writing things over again helping you to remember them, however I do know that this helps some of my friends. Also, physically writing something down [i.e. not typing it, or taking a photo of something, but using a pen and paper] can help you remember something.
  • Use loose leaf paper or a separate book to write your notes. When you take a look at something and then flip to the back of your book where your notes are, you so often forget what you’ve written. Also, it’s annoying flipping backwards and forwards. If you write in another book, you can just cross reference and keep moving forward in your school book. Furthermore, you can just carry around your study notes instead of your big book. This way you’re less likely to forget your notes.
  • Part of keeping organised, write titles to separate and categorise your notes.
  • Highlight or rewrite what you don’t remember so that you can find them easier. What I found best was writing the notes I needed but remembered/understood in green, writing what I was iffy on in orange and writing what I did not understand and needed to check in red. Titles were in purple so I could see them but didn’t have to concentrate on them. Then, before the exam, I just read my orange [after having checked the red previously].
  • Figure out what sort of learner you are. Some people find it easier to draw pictures, others find it easier to keep re-writing. You may find it better drawing diagrams or redoing experiments.

Anyway, I hope this helps you, and good luck.

Nature vs Nurture

There’s this idea within sociology and psychology [two big words that describe how people think in society] that the person we are is just an amalgamation of nature- who we are at the most basic form, who we were always going to be, the little things that make us “us”- and nurture- all of the things in our environment that influence us. It’s a very interesting concept, and there’s been a bit of debate about which one influences us more.

I was wondering to myself the other day, if I were born 200 years ago, how different would I be? This was while I was looking at the “scold’s bridle” on the wall of my history class- a scary looking head device that husbands used to put on their unruly wives to shut them up. They’ve got a spike in the mouth so the poor woman couldn’t eat or drink without help. The middle ages, hey? Pose this question to yourself, htough. Are you the sort of person that would accept such a thing nowadays, or would you try and escape it somehow? I think about it when I hear about arranged marriages. Although I’m sure so many people have found living in an arranged marriage perfectly fine, I would think that I wouldn’t be too happy, that I’d fight the decisions and be determined to run away or something. Would that have been me 200 years ago, though? Or would I be completely different, and just accept that as a part of life.

I think we’d all like to say that we’re our own people, and that who we are is who we were always meant to be. If I think about it though, there are heaps of mannerisms that I’ve adopted from my friends, parents and television shows. There are so many ideas that I’ve gotten from my teachers and church. What would I be like if I didn’t have those things?

Food for thought.

Devaluing

WARNING: The following post contains coarse language.

 

I’ve spoken on this blog before about how the human language is getting shorter regularly because we keep losing words, or replacing them with easier things to say [like “busted” instead of “defunct” and “cool” instead of “extraordinary”], but something related to this is the idea that we’re taking away the power or value of words in our language. I’m not sure if it’s an established idea- rather, something I’ve been thinking about lately, but consider this.

 

When Jonah, in the Bible, was sitting under a tree [or a shrub, or a vine], and it shrivelled up, he said [like a 14 year old girl in today’s society] “oh my God, I’m going to die”. Or something like that. He does actually legitimately talk to God, and says he’ll die because his shade is gone. It works. Anyway, he’s been judged by generation after generation of pastors for complaining about his lack of shade [gosh, first world problems], but my question is this- what if he was just doing what we do? Taking a word and making it less meaningful? Who hasn’t said [for example, on a particularly sunny day], “OMG, it’s so hot I’m gonna die”. Other ones I was thinking of were “you’re such a retard”, “I’m going to kill you”, and “fag”. They’re part of our everyday vocabulary, and when you say them to your mates, they don’t get offended that you’ve referred to them as someone with a mental disability, threatened to kill them or compared them to a homosexual. They just LOL. Sometimes not even really out loud.

 

What about the ones that used to deliver real hits though? The word fuck. To have sexual intercourse with someone or damage/ruin something. It has a dictionary definition. Nowadays, though, this word [which also used to mean rape] is now used when you stub your toe, when someone bugs you or to emphasise something [“that’s a fucking big sandwich”]. Oh how have the mighty have fallen- this once disgusting insult, never used but in the dirtiest circles, is now uttered by nearly every Australian on a regular basis.

In another way, what about words that used to mean something to us? How close do you have to be to someone to call them your BFF? Best Friends Forever, remember? How long is forever [just another word that’s lost its meaning]? Who is your BEST friend [good, better, best. How can you simultaneously have three BEST friends?] You can’t have more than one best man, or best dress, or best student. And how do you know that best friend will last forever [or, also common, “for life”?]

 

The way people use English is changing every day, but next time you go to call your computer a piece of shit, remember that the word still means “faeces or a contemptible/worthless person”. Remember that our language is there to describe what and how we’re feeling, to communicate to the rest of the world what we want to say. The more we take words out, and take away their meaning, the less we can communicate what we truly feel. The less we can express our thoughts and feelings, the less we can connect with each other. Try and make it an honour for someone to be your best friend, try and make it worth something when you say “this is literally the most amazing sandwich I’ve ever said”. Try and make it the greatest insult when you swear- if you have to swear at all.

 

Shakespeare once called someone “thou mammering hasty-witted blind-worm!”

 

Don’t just tell them to fuck off.

 

#100daysofhappiness

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to write, every day, five things that I was grateful for. I had a beautiful notebook to write these things in, and I was really excited about it. I’m sad to say that this resolution only lasted about three months (I should probably just stop writing New Years Resolutions).

Recently, I was reading one of my favourite magazines, though, and I came across two articles based around this kind of thing. Apparently, Oprah has been doing the “5 Things I’m Grateful For” thing for about 30 years [woah!] and finds it helps her to be thankful for things in life. On the page right before that, though, was a woman who had tried to do this challenge, but on her instragram [apparently it’s a trendy thing to do right now]. While reading Oprah’s article, I found I had a lot of respect for her, and what she’d accomplished- she was able to quote herself from 1993, which is pretty freaking awesome. The other lady, though, presented a lot of problems that I’d found myself facing.

Quite often, I’d find myself writing the same thing over and over again, or I couldn’t quite make it to five, especially on bad days. I might find myself writing something really shallow, because I couldn’t think of anything else, or actually just not writing anything because I was “too tired” or had left my book somewhere and wasn’t bothered to get it. The challenge was actually a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

Something that hadn’t quite come across my mind, though, was being grateful for the bigger things, or the smaller things. Usually I’d focus on the things in my immediate life. I had friends, I slept in that morning, I ate a good piece of cake. Thinking about it now, I’m thankful for bigger things, like living in Australia, having food and water to consume, having found a purpose in life, and the also very little [sometimes seemingly insignificant] things like my dog falling asleep on my lap, having a tissue when I need to blow my nose, or the sunshine not being too hot.

In conclusion, I reckon I’m going to try the challenge again- I’ve still got all those pages in my book- and I’m going to try a lot harder. I encourage anyone reading this to also give it a go- I think the point of this post was just to warn you that it may be hard, especially at first, but to look in places you may not have thought about for things to be thankful for. Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll have a book full.

Hillsong and the Media

Lately, in Australia, one of the big news stories is about Frank Houstan. The father of the founder of Hillsong (the church I attend) was unfortunately revealed, many years ago, to have been a pedophile. It is recently being dragged up, however, because one man is still suffering from what was done to him as a boy. What saddens me is that I do not know this man’s name, or indeed the name of any other of Frank Houstan’s victims, as the media is turning this story into a way of looking not at the man, but at his son’s church.

The headlines in the newspapers recently have been “Hillsong, a Church of Profits”, “Pastor Brian Houstan says his paedophile father is going to heaven”, and “leader of Australia’s richest church, Hillsong, faces allegations that his father was a paedophile”. None of them mention the actual man who now is going through these trials after thirty years of silence, but they all look to Brian Houstan to answer for his father’s actions. He has accepted these questions and answered them to the best of his ability, however, it would still seem as if he is being portrayed other than how he is.

I have to admit, I am disgusted by the way this is being used. I feel like our media- our news channels, our newspapers, all of the journalists covering this- don’t care about the issue that’s meant to be talked about. Instead, they seem to be using it to take as many stabs at the church, and indeed Hillsong, as they can. Every interview I’ve seen has been edited so we’re not sure what Brian Houstan was actually trying to say, and I’ve yet to hear anything from the victim.

To make things clear, Frank Houstan was dismissed from the church, and he was remorseful. He paid compensation to the children and their families and apologised. I realise this may not be enough to heal the wounds that were made through his actions, however, that is the issue we should be focused on. Child abuse, and how horrible it is. How it manifests within the church, and how we can deal with that problem. None of that has to do with “Hillsong”, though, or how Brian Houstan runs his church. None of that is condoned or accepted, and no reports of other Hillsong pastors engaging in such acts have been made.

For media, I think they should be ashamed of how they are using this to cover the issues they want to cover.

To the victims of Frank Houstan, I am sorry for what he did, and I hope you can find peace and justice.

To those wondering what is going on, or wanting to find out facts, I encourage you to research it. Do not just accept what you are given, but actively seek the truth. Feel free to attend a Hillsong church service and see what they have to say- Google it, watch the news, but as a society we’ve got to stop taking things at face value.

The Difference between Christianity and Catholicism.

All thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs. Although all Catholics fall under the term Christian, not all Christians agree with the different beliefs and traditions of Catholicism.

I wanted to make this distinction because recently I went on a tour of Italy with a group of students from my school, and so we took a look at the Vatican. I got asked by a lot of people what I thought of the place, and by one girl in particular, after voicing my opinions, if I was a Christian, because what I was saying didn’t seem to match up with what she knew.

The main differences that come to mind are what is most important. The way it was explained to me, the Vatican decided to try and become its own country because the only sovereignty they wanted to be ruled by was the Pope. When you walk into a Catholic church [and even our tour guide pointed this out to us], you should go and be “absolved” of your sins by confessing them to a Father. Not the Father. A human priest with his own faults.

I have the utmost respect for people who decide to dedicate so much of their life to their religion, and do good deeds under the name of the Church. I cannot, however, agree with going to someone who is below God and telling him what I did wrong. Jesus said He was the way to the Father- He didn’t mention a detour.
Then, if the priests and their power weren’t enough, there are the saints. There is a saint for everything from child birth to women who have suffered violence. Why should I look to these saints for help instead of looking to the one they looked to? Isn’t that part of the foundations of the very religion I claim to follow?

The third thing that gets my goat is that you have these little rosary beads. I bought some for my cousins off the side of the street for one euro each. A priest can measure how badly I’ve sinned and tell me to do so and so many prayers, or use these little beads until God has forgiven me. The Bible states it’s not through our acts that we get to heaven, but by Jesus’. How are reciting prayers off by heart because I believe it’ll make me right any different? Telling him prayers I know off by heart aren’t from my heart.

I respect that everybody has a right to their religion. You can practice what you want and believe what you want. You can use your beliefs in any way you choose. However, there’s a difference between Christianity and Catholicism- there are certainly many more than I’ve stated- and I think that needs to be noted. Anything that points people to Jesus is awesome. Anything that causes people to stray from that path to Jesus isn’t.