Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review of the Month: April

Okay, I have a confession to make: I haven't finished a single new book this month. I started several, checked out a few from the library, but never finished one. I know, shocker. This month has been quite busy, and I already know next month will be busy as well. So, this month's review will cover one (or three!) of my old favorites: the Inkheart trilogy.

This trilogy, consisting of Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke, aren't exactly new books, and there's been at least one movie, so you might already know a bit of the story. 

In case you don't, the books tell the story of a girl named Meggie and her father, Mo, a bookbinder. He has such a way with words that he can bring stories to life (literally!) with just his voice. Inkheart, in fact, is the name of the book-within-the-book that Mo has sword never again to read aloud. 

Besides the fantastical cast, the magical setting, and the intriguing concept, I loved reading books about main characters who loved books as much as I do. The magic in the Inkheart trilogy is not just about fantastic and mysterious characters and places. Above all, the magic of the Inkheart trilogy is the magic of books. 

I remember one line in particular that describes how reading a book captured all the little details of where you were, what was happening, who you were. I still remember where I was when I read that line: sitting in the elementary school cafeteria eating lunch and reading, back in the 5th or 6th grade. 

If you love fantasy or even romance books, the Inkheart trilogy would be a good choice for you. But even more so, if you love books like I do, then you will understand and appreciate and love the magic of these books. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Lie Society Tells Us: Self Portraits

At my school, if you walk down the fine arts hallway, you might hear flutes and trumpets and saxophones coming from the band room. You might hear voices coming from the choir room. You might hear lines being rehearsed in the drama room or auditorium. You might smell paint or sawdust from the tech theatre department. But you'll definitely see the line of portraits hanging on the cinder block walls.

About the first half of the drawings are pencil and charcoal self portraits of the students, splattered with colorful paint. The second half are colored pencil sketches on colored paper.

To put it simply, the colored pencil drawings are incredible. They're fantastically realistic, and the colors are bright and unexpected, yet somehow exactly the right shade to create the image you expect to see.

Don't get me wrong, the self portraits are wonderful too, and there is obviously a lot of talent, focus, and hard work that went into creating them. But as a whole, the self portraits are not as realistic as the colored pencil drawings. Upon closer inspection, some of them appear a bit distorted, sort of like looking in a warped carnival mirror.

If you take the time to think about the drawings as you walk down the hallway, you might start to wonder why the drawings the students did of other people look so realistic, and why oftentimes the drawings they did of themselves are a bit out of proportion. And I think it goes back to another one of the lies society tells us.

The self portraits are distorted because that is how we, as people, tend to see ourselves.

We do not see ourselves as we truly are. We cannot see ourselves accurately. We have spent too much time criticizing our own appearances based on a set of "standards" that the media gives us. We have started to believe things about ourselves that just aren't true.

But with other people, we don't seem to do this. I think, a lot of times, we don't hold pick apart other people's appearances like we do our own. So often, we know not to be mean to others, but we never think about not being mean to ourselves.What you may see in yourself isn't necessarily what others see.

And I think that's worth remembering, next time you feel self conscious. Our internalized self portrait is not what others are really seeing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Out of Town!

Hello to my readers! Just so you know, I'll be out of town this week, so there won't be a new post tomorrow! I'll try to have a new post up Tuesday. I know it's been busy, and I know that the post dates have been messed up. Thank you all for sticking around through this craziness! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Are You a Romantic?

If someone asked you if you were a romantic, what would you say? Okay, now if someone asked if you were a Romantic, what would you answer?

I've never really thought of myself as a Romantic. And no, we're not talking about Cupid and hearts and Valentine's Day, although that's all fine and good it that's your sort of thing.

So a few months ago, I probably would have answered no to both of those questions. Or at least the second one, for sure. But I think I've rethought my position since then.

In case you don't remember from your high school history or English literature class, Romanticism was a movement that circulated during the 1800's in America and Western Europe. It affected nearly all areas of art, including literature, visual art, music, and dance. It was largely a reaction against the Scientific Revolution, rationalism, and rapid industrialization of the time.

The Romantics believed that creativity was more important than intelligence, spontaneity was more important than planning, emotion was more important than mind, and nature was more important than industrialization.

And these few things are what made me disagree with them.

I will be the first to admit: I am a very logical person. I like to think out how to solve problems in a logical way, I analyze (and sometimes over-analyze) everything, and I tend to plan things out before I do them. So to insist that something else is more important than the way my brain works sort of instantly turned me away from agreeing with the Romantics.

But I am also a very creative person. All of my hobbies are very expressive ones: music, writing, art, and sometimes I can be rather reflective and sensitive. I do tend to plan out my stories before I write and sketch out my drawings before I paint, but it's still creativity.

I've realized now that I don't entirely disagree with the Romantic movement. I just disagree that one set of ideas is necessarily more important than the (seemingly opposite) set.

I believe in the importance of creativity as well as intelligence, spontaneity as well as planning, emotion as well as mind, and nature as well as industrialization. People, and the world as a whole, needs a balance of both to really be successful.
"There is no conflict between warm emotions and an intelligent, well-trained mind."                 —Walter Raymond Spalding, Music: An Art and a Language

Friday, April 10, 2015

Post Delays

Hello to all my readers out there!

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted this week. I really am sorry about that! Things have been delayed due to homework, SGA elections (this is your new Junior Secretary speaking), and headaches, but everything should be back on schedule for this week. Be sure to check back on Tuesday and Thursday for new posts!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Lie Society Tells Us: Price vs. Worth

I think it's pretty clear that society tells us all a lot of lies. About the world, about others, and about ourselves. But I think one of the biggest lies we're told is that expensive things are better.

It's a common saying: "you get what you pay for." But I would argue that it's not always true. Yes, sometimes cheaper items are of a lower quality. That's just a simple business principle; to charge lower prices, you usually need to purchase cheaper, poorer quality materials. But sometimes, having lower quality materials doesn't make enough of a difference in the final product.

For example, I can't tell the difference in a book I paid full price for at Barnes & Noble and the one I paid a dollar for at Dollar Tree. Obviously, the stories are different, but when it comes down to it, it's just ink on a page. And if the Dollar Tree book is printed with lower quality ink on lower quality paper, well, it just doesn't make a difference in the end reading experience. Nor can I tell a difference in the book that I paid fifty cents for at a thrift store, other than it maybe showing a little age or wear. 

I was raised to look for bargains. I always buy things on sale, or with coupons, or at thrift stores, and if I can't find it, maybe I can make it myself. And I normally find really good-quality items for low prices. Sometimes even name brand items. I am not the kind of person who will pay more for an item just because it has a certain brand on it. 

However, because of the lie society tells us, many people will pay more for an item just because of its brand. And I think this makes the people who simply can't afford to have all name brand things feel like they are inferior somehow. They feel like because they don't have the biggest house, or the nicest car, or the newest iPhone, or that name brand backpack, that they aren't as good as the person who does. Society teaches us that "price" and "worth" are synonymous. 

Yet, for a society that treats price and worth as being the same, there sure is a big difference in "worthless" and "priceless," isn't there? 

Let's take a look at that for a moment. If we are to believe the lie society tells us, that price and worth are equal, then these two words should mean the same thing, right? But everyone knows that they would never call the Mona Lisa worthless, or an ordinary pebble they picked up outside priceless. 

The dictionary defines it this way:
1. having a value beyond all price; invaluable:
a priceless artwork.

1. without worth; of no use, importance, or value; good-for-nothing:
a worthless person 

Isn't that interesting? Society tells us that price and worth are the same, and in the same breath explains the difference in worthless and priceless. "Worthless" generally means it has so little value that it cannot equal money. And "priceless" means it has so much value that money cannot equal it. 

It's simple. Price does not equal worth

For an example, let's look at people. If you have to "buy" your friend, let's say with expensive gifts, then they're probably not going to be a very valuable friend to have. In fact, you might could say they're worthless as a friend, because they're not truly loyal to you. 

On the other hand, a true friend will be loyal, whether or not you give them fancy presents or whatever they ask for. They will stick beside you in good and bad. The friend with the high price tag could be considered worthless, while the friend that comes for free is priceless. 

Friends, family, love, hope, faith, peace, laughter, nature, music (and we're not talking iTunes here), language, and art are all examples of beautiful, priceless things that come at no cost at all. 

So if you ever feel worthless because you can't afford that fancy new item with the high price tag, just remember...

Price does not equal worth.