Thursday, May 3, 2012


This the last week before finals, and like most students, I'm pretty scared. But anyways, this week we went over the final and we revisited what makes a super hero. I still remember how in the beginning of the year, we kept throwing out all these random traits that we believe superheroes have and need. Finally, we were able to narrow it down to about twenty traits. I believed it was a very good list that depicted what made a superhero.

In the different stories, I believe most of the main characters were superheroes. Take Beowulf for example, he was the very first superhero in literature. He came to the mead hall, representing his kingdom, and killed the monsters that were terrorizing the people. Another great hero was Gawain. There were many stories about Gawain, but the particular story we read was how he defended the honor of the entire kingdom. Even though he didn't fight gigantic monsters, he's known as the best of King Arthur's knights.

In class we also discussed what the difference between a hero, a super hero, and a superhero. Everyone had their own opinions, but this is how I see it. A hero is someone who shows courage and/or ability and uses it to help people. An example would be a police officer or a firefighter. A super hero to me is someone who has shown great courage and/or ability. A good example Professor Bahlmann made were the firefighters that helped the people during the 9/11 attacks.

Then there's superheroes, iconic people who had abilities that were so inhuman, they were able to save the world. Now in class, a lot of people regarded superheroes as only people who existed in comic books. Now I agree with them, but not 100%. I believe that a superhero is a person is a person that tried to make a difference. Someone who tried to save many people or someone who wanted to change the world for the better. Examples would include Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, the man who briefly stopped the tanks at Tienanmen Square, or even Moses from the Bible. In comics, the heroes are also making a difference; they're trying to save people.

In the comics, Batman is out every trying to save Gotham from all of these evil maniacs. Spider-Man is always out trying to save New York, even though he's still young. Superman tries to save the world with all of his powers. Even though these vigilantes are very iconic, we shouldn't forget about the superheroes we have in our world. So for my definition, a superhero is someone who goes out in the world, is unselfish of their own needs, and tries to make a difference.

WC: 457

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This week we started to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It's a medieval story taking place in Camelot, where King Arthur and his knights of the round table reside. The story starts off on new years and everyone is waiting for food to be served. Arthur said he's bored and wont eat until he see's something marvelous. Just then a random, giant, green knight walks into the hall and challenges someone to cut off his head with his own ax. Everyone is shocked, but Sir Gawain steps up, promises to play the knight's game, and chops the knight's head off. After the knight puts his head back on, he tells Gawain that in a year and one month, he Gawain to find him so that he can chop Gawain's head off.

Sadly, Gawain promised to obey the rules of the game before hearing the part about his head being chopped off. So the story continues like that and I haven't finished the story yet. So far I enjoy the story a lot and I'm expecting there to be a good ending.

This story was written after the story of Beowulf, but just before Othello. I personally found Sir Gawain and the Green Knight a lot easier to read than Shakespeare, but I later found it was actually translated by J. R. R. Tolkein. For some who might not know, J. R. R. Tolkein is mostly well known for writing the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

With the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I feel like it's just like the other stories we read, but I feel its also very unique in its own way. Tales of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot were famous stories I remember hearing when I was a kid. There were also many movie adaptions depicting Excalibur and the Knights of the Round Table. I always thought that Sir Lancelot or Sir Perceval. But I don't remember hearing about a knight called Sir Gawain. It turns out that Sir Lancelot was actually one of the last knights ever added to the Round Table and that Gawain was one of the original and best of King Arthur's knights.

Today we also talked about honor. At first I was a little confused, but I think I kind of understand now. I just questioned that if Sir Gawain is told the Green Knight is coming back in a year and one month to cut his head off, why would go find the knight and let him cut his head off? According to the Professor, its all about honor. Gawain made a promise, even though he wasn't 100% clear on whole getting your head cut off.

Personally, there isn't really anything that I would sacrifice my life for. But the Spartans in 300, the Alamo, and the brave people during 9/11, they all sacrificed themselves even though they knew they were going to die. I guess it's like describing the color blue to a blind person or Daoism. I guess that's why I like these types of characters. They're selfless and they never go back on their promises.

WC: 525

Friday, March 30, 2012


This week we finished up Othello and talked about final paper ideas. On Monday, the professor was talking about how Shakespeare wrote his plays and I was a little confused. To me, it seemed like a bunch of wordy nonsense that could be summarized. But then the professor mentioned the Matrix. In the movie, the little boy told Neo he could bend the spoon because there is no spoon. It was a crypitc way of saying that the Matrix doesn't exist, therefore you can do anything. Same with Morpheus when he talked to Neo about the Matrix. He went on with a cryptic speech and said the Matrix is only an illusion you can control. It's the same as Shakespeare.

When Shakespeare wrote Othello and his other pieces of work, he wrote it in a way that was new. A way where people can enjoy the English language fully understand what the characters are feeling. I have to give Shakespeare credit, I didn't know he did so much for the English language. He created so many famous sayings and different words that I didn't give him enough credit for. Maybe if i was to reread his plays more slowly, I may be able to enjoy them a little more. In high school, I don't remember reading Shakespear, but we probably did and I just don't remember. But maybe during this spring break, I might take a look at The Tempest or Hamlet.

Yesterday wasn't really a discussion on readings, but more on brainstorming ideas for our final paper. At first I had no idea what to write when I first walked into class, but then my idea came to me. It was the same process the professor talked about before class ended. He said to take a story we read in class and say why I liked it. I liked Beowulf the most because the thought that he was the first superhero ever to be told by one of the oldest civilizations is very amazing. A hero who was stronger than 10 men, who could hold his breath under water for hours, and fight a might dragon, is a great read in my book. Then I tried to relate Beowulf to things I like. I was thinking about relating him to Superman and how they're both heroes, but it seemed a little hard. Then I started to analyze Beowulf a little more. A monster came out of no where and started killing people in the mead hall. The people are scared for their lives, and all of a sudden a great hero from a far away land comes and saves them all.

That reminded me of Clint Eastwood's character The Man With No Name from the "Dollars" western series. A hero who comes into town, saves everyone from the bad guys, then rides into the sunset not asking for a reward. There's more I can say about him, but I'll save it for the final paper. I felt that by brainstorming in class, it got my brain flowing with all these ideas on how I can write my paper.

WC: 519

Friday, March 23, 2012


This week we talked about Othello and discussed it in class. Before that, we took our last quiz on Daoism and I was really surprised. The question that asked "of the four quotes, which one didn't come from our text" and I guessed. It turns out my guess was wrong and the quote I thought was from the Daoist text actually came from the bible. I was really amazed by that and understood that no matter what belief or philosophy one follows, it's all pretty much the same.

With the story of Othello, I have to honest I'm not a complete fan of Shakespeare. I mean I do like the stories. I believe the stories are magnificent. The problem is I can't understand what he's writing. To me, it seems its all unnecessary jargon that could be summarized in very few pages. Having said that, reading Othello was not an easy task. I had to find a helpful translator to summarize each sentence in the play. From what I read, Othello is a general for Venice and he's from North Africa. This guy Iago hates Othello for many reasons. The real reason? I don't know, but we do know Iago hates Othello a lot. So throughout the play, Iago lies and plots to get back at Othello while at the same time trying to benefit himself like stealing money.

As the story goes on, you learn that Iago tries to make it look like Othello's wife Desdemona was cheating on him with Cassio, Othello's first lieutenant. I actually read ahead and found out


Othello kills Desdemona by smothering her with a pillow, then once he finds out she was actually faithful, he kills himself.

So that's how the great tragedy ends. Now Othello is not really a hero in this play, or anyone for that matter. Rather, this story doesn't have a hero like in Oedipus Wrex or Daoism. Instead this story has a great villain, Iago. This guy did so much evil just to get what he wanted. He lied to almost everyone, made things look like they were something else, and made sure he got what he wanted. Tying it back to comic books, Iago reminds me of the Joker. Not the Joker from the comics, but from the movie The Dark Knight with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger.

In the movie, we don't know who the Joker is or why he's doing these bad things. All we know is that he likes to create chaos and will kill anyone who gets in his way. Iago reminds me of the Joker because we don't have a clear reason why he wants to kill Othello (even though it just might be because Othello passed the job of lieutenant to Cassio) but we do know that he would do anything, including getting his wife involved and having people die in order to get what he wants.

WC: 487

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Last week we read about daoism and tried to explain what daoism, or "taoism" is. When i first read about taoism in the book, i was really confused. The first few pages were these weird sayings like "running a government is like boiling a small fish" or "woman is like river on the bottom of a mountain". It was like the kung fu philosophy instruction manual. Then it started to go on with these different stories like the man who played his lute to mimic his surroundings. Wasn't really sure what that meant.

Another story was about a man cutting ox meat with the same knife for many years. It wasn't until we talked about it in class that I understood. When it comes to doing something for so long, it becomes natural to you. I think that's what the story meant. Another story was about a man who was fishing and two of the emperor's men asked him for governing advice. The man said that he was like a prized tortoise and he should be left alone. Again I'm not sure if that's what the story meant but I think that's what we said in class.

It wasn't until the professor gave us an example of describing salt to someone who has never tasted salt. That really blew my mind. It was really hard to describe it, and I guess that's how Taoism is. It's something you can't explain in words, but something we have to discover. A "way of life teachings" we must follow. I think they have basic rules like don't fight the waves, go with the flow. It made me reflect on myself and how I live. Sometimes I try to fight things and make them work the way I want them to. But what if I just relaxed and worked my way with it? I believe its a good way to live life.

Its like a way to control emotions and to be at peace. If someone is furious, it doesn't mean you have to be furious as well. Just accept the person's angry and calmly try to solve the problem. As Americans, we could learn a thing or two about daoism. If we were to incorporate these teachings, I believe we can live more peaceful lives.

Then we watched the Matrix last class and that movie was supposed to relate to daoism. During the movie, I was more amazed about the cinematography since I haven't seen the movie in over 10 years. But I continued to watch the movie and came to a conclusion. The people who have woken up in the real world like Morpheus and Trinity understand the matrix. When Morpheus fought Neo, Morpheus told Neo "do you think that's air you are breathing? The laws of physics don't apply in the matrix. Stop trying to hit me and hit me". I feel that Morpheus' outlook on the matrix is a great example of daoism.

WC: 493

Monday, March 5, 2012


Last week in class, we just finished the Ramayana and started to read about Daoism. At the end of Ramayana, Rama defeats Ravana with a great arrow and gets Sita back. But in getting her back, he tells Sita that he can't be with her because he suspects her of being with Ravana. Sita is so upset trying to explain to Rama that she is faithful, she stands on top of a pyre while it's on fire. All of a sudden a god saves her from the flames and tells Rama that she is pure and has done no such thing. Sita is saved and Rama said "I knew you were always faithful, but I needed the God's approval first". They all live happily ever after.

Now with that happening, its like watching Star Wars Episode I. You like the story, but there's some things you want to pretend that never happened. For example in the original trilogy of Star Wars, Jedi's believed that the Force was might power around us that jedi's can harness. In Star Wars Episode I they said in order to tell if someone can harness the force, then they would have a high midi-chlorian count. To me that sounded like one of the dumbest things Lucas put in the Star Wars universe next to Jar Jar Binks.

Besides the ending, I believe Rama is the ideal model a man. But according to a discussion we had, the whole class had an idea of a model for the ideal man and the ideal woman. Guys said that the ideal guys are Clint Eastwood, Michael Jordan, John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and others. Girls said that the ideal woman would be Hilary Clinton, Oprah, and I wasn't paying attention to the rest. But when it came time for guys to choose the ideal woman and girls to choose the ideal man, it was a little hectic. I remember guys choosing Beyonce and some random model while girls chose Channing Tatum, Kobe Bryant, and some other guys. To me it seems that when you get someone to come up with the ideal of the opposite sex, they start to think about the most attractive rather than the model of hero. It goes to show you we all have an idea of role-model and hero.

I also read Daoism and I can say that this was one of the most difficult readings I've ever had in my educational life time. I always thought Fyodor Dostoevsky was difficult, but this was like something out of an old 70's
kung-fu movie. It talked about lots of thins like how the people alive are limber while the dead are stiff. Moral of the passage is to always be limber. I try to understand it, but for the most part some of it is a little confusing. Reading it, I feel like I'm being lectured by Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.

WC: 488

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Last week, we finished up Gilgamesh and started reading the Ramayana. Gilgamesh's friend Enkidu dies, so Gilgamesh goes on a long quest to find immortality because he fears death. In the end of the story, he doesn't find immortality but a thorny branch that gives him youth. Sadly a snake eats it and he loses the power of youth. Moral of the story is no man can live forever and become young again.

In Ramayana, Rama was about to become a king but his step mom didn't want that to happen. So the step mom used two of her promised on the king to make her son the king and to exile Rama to the forest for 14 years. Even though the king didn't want to do it, he couldn't go back on a promise. He was balling his eyes out when the stepmother told Rama that he was to be exiled under the king's orders. Even though the king didn't want to, Rama agreed with no questions asked.

For the Gilgamesh story, I felt it wasn't really a story of a hero but of a king who was afraid of death. It kind of reminded me of Beowulf in which the morale of  the story was that everybody dies, even the greatest. Gilgamesh did fight the giant bull and the demon in the forest, but he didn't fight those creatures to protect the people, but fought them because he was bored. If Gilgamesh was a real fighter, he would've found more ways to protect the people.

I enjoyed Ramayana a little more, especially because I did a presentation on the story in class. I feel that Rama is the ideal person we should all strive to be. We should also be like the king who always honored his promises. But anyways, I believe that Rama wasn't being passive but he was just obeying his father's word. I believe we should all be like Rama learn to control our emotions and follow our elder's words. Now a days majority of us question our parent's logic, disobey people with power, and try to work around the law. If we were to all be like Rama and to control our emotions, I believe the world would be a little less violent.

In Ramayana, the king was crying when his wife told Rama that he must be exiled to the forest for 14 years. As the king, he could have just told her no and continue to let Rama become prince. Instead he was balling his eyes out as his son accepted his fate. I have to give it up to the king because that must be hurtful that you promised the entire kingdom that Rama was going to be king, but now you go back on your word because of promises you made to your wife. It goes to show you that as a king, you must always keep your promises, no matter what.

Also when the king was crying, I believe he had no shame at all. In our society, its unmanly to cry at all. In my opinion if you feel like crying, then cry. The only catch is, don't cry in public. Instead, cry where no one will see you.

WC: 541