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Milton Musings

I started my reread of Book IV of Paradise Lost recently. It took the better part of an hour to get through the first 115 or so lines. They are fraught with implications, questions, and applicable ruminations, which meant that I had to go very, very slowly. And, as so often happens when you're reading good literature, there were three real showstoppers: there no place
Left for Repentance, none for Pardon left? (4.79-80) and
...he deserv'd no such return
From me, whom he created what I was (4.42-43) and
Hadst thou [Satan] the same free Will and Power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heav'ns free Love dealt equally to all?
Be then his Love accurst, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe. (4.66-70) Taken out of context as they are, the meaning of the passages is rather opaque. I should probably note that these quotes come from Satan's soliloquy before he enters the eponymous (well, one of the eponymous) Paradise and see…
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Shakespeare in the Dark

This past week, I had a lot of interesting moments. I went on a writing retreat wherein I wrote over 40,000 words in three days (with some bonus writing while I was at it, putting the end-of-the-week total at 47,500 words and change). I was hoping to write an essay about that.

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Hearing Lucifer

It's Sunday. Here's something slightly more religious: Paradise Lost.

I started another reread of Paradise Lost this last week. My school is having an informal book club about the poem and, though I won't be able to attend as often as I wish, it's exciting to read Milton again.

One of the interesting things that was brought up during the discussion was the mistrust most of the participants had of Satan. I mentioned before some of my experiences discussing the Prince of Darkness, but that was in the formal school setting. In this conversation, we could be even more forthright, and since most of us were LDS, we were able to dive into more specific theological implications than I do with my students. (The added benefit was that we didn't have to waste any time explaining what happened in the book, as summarizing and explaining the text is a huge piece of my pedagogy.) As we wandered through Book I, it quickly became apparent that there was a reluctance to embrace the …

Timed Write 3

What's the point of questions? This is asked not as an accusation, nor as a subversion of itself, but as an inescapably ironic process of inquiry. Questions are powerful. Very powerful. World changing. Yet their ubiquity seems to also enervate them. Can we question questions? And if the point of a question is to ask the question, can we come to an answer about questions that doesn't open up for more questions?

But first, a story: I was sitting in a Sunday School class a year or so back, doing my best not to nurse my professional grudge against most (though certainly not all) Sunday School teachers*. It never is a personal grudge, but, having not only gone to college specifically to learn about different methodologies, studies, and theories of teaching, I have also completed nearly a decade of teaching. Students seem to appreciate my class, insomuch that I dare say that I'm probably a fairly good teacher, and one thing that I have practiced for that time is carrying on a co…

The Mysterious Case of Jonathan Franzen

I try to keep a light touch on the publishing world, and I like to follow success stories about authors, even if I don't read their stuff. As a frequenter of bookstores (my closest is a Barnes and Noble, which hurts my help-independent-booksellers inclination, but spares my bank account, as I can get a teacher discount at B&N, plus not have to commute for an hour to get there), I see a lot of names on the shelves. My diet is dichotomously spread between classics and science fiction/fantasy, with some dabbling in the historical section, too. The large, mainstream fiction is relatively unexplored by me, though I occasionally venture outwards. And, since I always perk up when I hear about authors--and few current authors court as much controversy as Jonathan Franzen--I finally decided to buy a copy of Freedom. (In the interest of full disclosure, I bought it used for a dollar, plus tax, at a now-out-of-business used bookstore.)

It's still sitting on my shelf. But an audiobook…

Money in Writing

I looked up the most lucrative authors of 2016 on Forbes, curious to see what kind of emphasis mainstream fiction has over the commercial fiction (which covers the speculative market). Here's the list (the gallery is obnoxious, so I'm putting the information here). Also, I've put the genre in which they write into parentheses so that it's easier for me to analyse.

James Patterson (A)Jeff Kinney (MG)J.K. Rowling (YA/F/A/M)John Grisham (A)Stephen King (F/H)Danielle Steel (A/R)Nora Roberts (A)E.L James (A)Veronica Roth (YA/SF)John Green (YA/NA)Paula Hawkins (A)George R.R. Martin (F)Rick Riordan (YA/F)Dan Brown (A) If you've walked through a bookstore for any amount of time, you'll see these names. What's interesting here is the sprinkling of Young Adult books (though it's debatable if Rowling's presence on this list comes from her Adult/Mystery books or continual sales of Harry Potter), but only one Middle Grade. The fact that the single Middle Grade au…

Educated Ranting

Finland is an interesting place. Besides giving the Russians a run for their money during the Winter War, they're consistently considered at the top of sundry lists of best schools in the world. There's always a lot to unpack whenever comparing countries in any way, not the least of which comes from the different cultures, histories, and values of the people within the counties. That disparity can make large, important schisms between comparisons and ought not to be ignored.

That being said, there are universal things among humans. Specific needs, like air, food, and water come to mind, but even on the broad-scale, not-quite-universal-but-so-ubiquitous-as-to-make-them-effectively-catholic level, we can see that certain thoughts, behaviors, or techniques can have a strong effect on most everyone. When we look at problem areas in America (health care, education, race relations, gun control), we can't simply point at another country, account for comparative development and we…