Empress Myeongseong

As someone of Korean lineage, I felt obligated to learn more about the past of my people. The Koreans are a proud people, full of history and tradition that is being worn away by modern society. The major periods of Korean history were distinguished by dynasties. Time when a particular royal family ruled the nation.

The Joseon Dynasty was one such period. As the first dynasty of Korea, this family was marked for greatness. During the long feud between Japan and Korea, Empress Myeongseong advocated to protect themselves against Japan by aligning with Russia. At the age of 43, she was assassinated due to the threat the Japanese perceived of her (Wikipedia).

I think the most glorious thing about her is her name: “The Filial and Benevolent, the Origin of Holiness, the Proper in Changes, the Uniter of Heaven, the Immensely Meritorious, and the Sincerely Virtuous Grand Empress Consort Myeongseong” (Wikipedia).

She might have died young, compared to her husband who died at 66, she was very ahead of her time (Wikipedia). Actively participating in politics and studying fields considered solely for men (Listverse). I think she can be a great role model for modern women, as a symbol of dignity and purpose.

Wikipedia

Listverse

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Gardner

My first impression? Gardner is pretentious. Not only did he write this super intricate novel adding onto the story of the oldest villain in American literature, but he connected it with philosophy and astrology so well. This combined with the statement in his letter that he spends his valuable time “straighten[ing] out this miserable, confused world” gave me the idea that he thought himself a sort of prophet for the world, spreading his immense knowledge. Also, the way Gardner conveys his interpretation of Beowolf seems somewhat hostile towards David. While he does justify David’s incorrect interpretation, Gardner seemed to ignore the fact that he has analyzed the story of Beowolf  much more than any other person, and he could have been more tactful with his correction. Then, he continues by expressing his disgust at the students’ analysis of his world view. Once again, he was somewhat brutish towards these high schoolers with nowhere near the knowledge of literature he has. He then finishes with a passive aggressive “I’m kidding” which bothered me the most. Gardner ignored the normal convention of a simple thank you letter to this insensitive response.

On the other hand, he does stress the naivety of the way the students read the work. I’ll be the first to say I did not pick up on any of the nuances we have discussed over the past week, which would have been helped by a second/slower read. Gardner then continues by masterfully defending his Grendel and the way in which he wrote, justifying the wide exploration of philosophy he performs via Grendel. I did find it admirable that Gardner chose to discuss existentialism a theory from someone he does not like. Except all he proceeds to do in the novel is use existentialism in a connotative negative medium for the downfall of Grendel.

A Nearly Perfect Morning

I was at first attracted to this poem by Jessica Greenbaum, due to its imagery of nature. Being outdoors is very relaxing, an activity which I regretfully do not make enough time for. While having an easy flow, I struggled comprehending the poem due to vocabulary. I had no idea what “ameliorate” meant, but a quick search in a dictionary solved that problem and others.

While I am unsure, I believe “A Nearly Perfect Morning” to be an ode to mornings, which would explain the title. The poem sends wave upon wave of light imagery hinting at the positivity of morning. With the rebirth of day, the speaker is able to reflect upon the past with a new-found energy.