The Cold Arrogance of Reasoned Isolation

Jack London’s short story, “To Build a Fire,” sets a man in isolation from societal culture as he treks across the Yukon trail. As he furthers himself from the trail, he is confident in his ability to survive through the means of his independent analysis, based on scientific data and technology, rather than experience. London’s arrangement of  time, diction, syntax, and urgency embodies a theme of arrogance leading to vulnerability. The story shows that an individual cannot overcome nature through science or technology alone and that the more one becomes dependent on these things, the less fit one is to survive. The story resolves that without hereditary natural knowledge, community, and respect for nature, man cannot endure the natural world. This resolution speaks to the reader today as the story’s effect is strengthened by the passage of real time. Read More…

Learning to Walk, Again

The walk home is long at six in the evening. Fifteen blocks of families and lovers rushing to dinner. I can see the disenchantment in their faces. The wives wear too much make-up, the girlfriends don’t wear any. There are fathers in wrinkled Dockers with daughters who refuse to hold their dad’s hand. I’m glad I don’t have any children. I don’t know if I would make a good father, I don’t know that I believe in the nobility of sacrifice. The sole of my shoe is wearing and I can feel the small gravel piercing the soft pad of my foot. The light is on in the living room. Helen’s home. She’s always home. Read More…

A Modern Adaptation of Sarah Kemble Knight’s Journey by Angela Delphenich and Justine Gomes

Sarah Kemble Knight’s journey is the first recorded link in a chain that has stretched from the eighteenth century well into the twenty-first century. By creating a modern adaptation of her journal, the similarities that bind seemingly dissimilar moments of time become plainly visible. Our modern American woman, Sarah Upright, sets out on a twenty-first century journey that is an equivalent to Madam Knight’s two hundred mile voyage. As Sarah struggles with her own prejudices in an unfamiliar culture, she incorporates mockery and humor into a blog for friends back home. Like Madam Knight, the blog establishes a hierarchy of the written over the oral with an anthropological gaze. Read More…

Embracing the Heathen Heritage

Pain, punishment, unrequited love, all of these crushing experiences saturate Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. The thread of every living existence is woven into the tapestry of Egdon Heath. Those who are closest to the heath, who live and breathe and care and work with the heath, are able to escape the whole of tragedy. Although a setting is usually only the background in a novel, the heath and its traditions operate as a catalyst for the experiences of its inhabitants. Clym experiences blindness and remorse after returning from Paris. Eustacia despises the heath and eventually drowns. Venn roams about, living a life closer to nature than any of the other inhabitants and is able to wrangle a sort of possession and will over those whom he stalks. All men suffer on the heath and Hardy’s novel seems to suggest that humanity’s traditions, homes, and livelihoods must not be divided or else dire consequences will be incurred; however, if one accepts tradition’s belonging to the heath, one can garnish the most power and least suffering. Read More…

Married in Black: The Subtle Impressions of a Tragic Villain

In Charles Dickens’ novel, Nicholas Nickleby, reading for plot and reading through close analysis allows for a varied understanding of the characters significance. When reading for plot, Nicholas Nickleby operates as the hero of the novel and Ralph Nickleby as the villain. In a closer analysis, Ralph Nickleby does not simply operate as a villain to distinguish the hero, but Nicholas seems to distinguish Ralph. The lack of depth in Nicholas’ character heightens Ralph’s character depth as it exists in the artistic negative space of Nicholas’ exaggerated and static presence. Read More…

BLAST nature BLESS MAN

Blast, a publication planned primarily by Wyndham Lewis, uses poetics coupled with typography to promote a distinctly English avant-garde movement. In contrast to the Italian Futurist movement that downplayed the role of mankind through a “drama of objects” (Norton 898), Blast emphasizes the particular roles and strengths of  mankind based on England’s technologic feats. Read More…

A Heroic Couplet on Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

  Light Yagami you are so young at heart, From the others your age, so just and smart. L, your rival, mysterious and blunt Thinks you are Kira, and so goes to hunt, Through the data your father has helped find, They know not the Spirit that works in kind. Secretly uniting, you seem a friend […]

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Stagnation: An Essay on A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms

In the fourth book of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift demonstrates the essentially destructive pursuit of reason in human society. Swift’s protagonist, Gulliver, believes perfect reason could solve the many problems of humanity, yet his emotional responses to what he considers to be a purely rational society casts doubt on his glorification of reason. By establishing Gulliver as an unreliable narrator subject to irrational emotions, Swift demonstrates that perfect reason can never be truly realized in human society and the pursuit of such reason can only lead to societal and psychological stagnation. Read More…

Willing Those Who Won’t: A Short Study of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener

Herman Melville’s, Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street, is the first person narration of a man who struggles to understand an unknown force and/or lack of force behind the actions of his employee. The lawyer goes through great analytic lengths to justify the actions of his employees and successfully avoids confrontation by defining their characters. As the narrator attempts to hide himself away from confrontation, one employee systematically breaks down his ability to analyze and the lawyer can’t make him fit in society. Read More…

The Blue Note Gal

Around the table, through the beaded curtain, Sam could see the smoke rising. He shook the ice in his glass and swallowed, he thought the taste too bitter tonight. There she was standing before him, a proud and determined Venus—he could tell she was bluffing. She was a minor player in a major game and after the cards were cut, she ran. Her thin frame wavered in her heels. She was too far from the ground. Read More…