Thursday, June 30, 2011

Photo Giveaway!

Yes, this is a post that has nothing to do with books.


Do you want a chance to win some of my awesome photography? I'm doing a giveaway and four lucky people will win one (or more!) of my photos.

I'm doing the giveaway through the new blog I created for my Etsy shop, and if you want to see the particular post with instructions on how to enter the giveaway just click here.

I will pick winners on 7/7 in 7 days. :)

ps. I've got some new stuff in my shop, some of which is Pagan themed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mother Gothel and Rapunzel

Early on in the movie Tangled is a scene that sets up the relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel. I'm talking about the song, Mother Knows Best, which Mother Gothel goes into after Rapunzel says that she wants to see the "floating lights." This song sets up an unhealthy relationship between the two where Mother Gothel repeatedly belittles Rapunzel, and shows how little motherly affection she really has.

What I'm focusing on here is all visual, so it's not something you'd notice if you were just listening to the sound track. You'll have to watch the movie.

First of all is what happens during lyrics "You know why we stay up in this tower / That's right, to keep you safe and sound dear." During the second line Mother Gothel has got her hands on Rapunzel's hair. The magic hair which keeps her young. That right there indicates what she is really interested in keeping safe: Rapunzel's hair, not Rapunzel herself.

As for the next two, I don't remember which happens first.

In one place Mother Gothel has put out all the lights and Rapunzel is relighting them one small candle at a time. So what does Mother Gothel do? She follows along behind Rapunzel putting out each flickering candle. Here we see that wherever Rapunzel lights a light (or hope) Mother Gothel extinguishes it. Or tries to, anyways.

Then we have the place where Mother Gothel holds out her arms, offering her comfort. Rapunzel goes to Mother Gothel, but after embracing her supposed mother it is revealed that she is holding a manikin that had a dress on it. Here we see that any comfort ever offered to Rapunzel is fake.

Last, when Mother Gothel is leaving the tower and telling Rapunzel that she will be back later, she calls Rapunzel "Flower" -- something which she also calls Rapunzel earlier on when young Rapunzel is shown with her. Here we see what Rapunzel really is to her, which is a means to the power of the magic flower that was used to heal the queen.

I've been typing this while watching Tangled and we're now to take two of Mother Knows Best. There are even more things Mother Gothel does in an attempt to keep her "flower" under control. And that's all Mother Gothel wants, is to keep her flower safe, and looking after Rapunzel is just a means to an end. So she looks after the physical needs of Rapunzel, keeping her fed, clothed, housed, and comfortable. But she doesn't really care about Rapunzel for herself.

Beka Cooper's nightmare

I have this habit of listening to audio books as I go to sleep, and recently I've been listening to Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper: Bloodhound. (I'm actually sort of on my third time listening to it this year...yes I know I'm a nut.) My interest in how dreams/visions are used in books did not end with the final paper I wrote on the topic for spring term, so I want to take a look at the dream on pages 72-3 of this book.

And no, the dream does not qualify as a spoiler, I think. It concerns an event that occurs between books 1 and 2 of the Beka Cooper quartet (Bloodhound being the second book) which we only hear about in this dream.

I had the burning man dream again. It's like it was four months ago. I see that cove run into the curst Cesspool building with his torch. I hear the bang as he slams the door and the clack as he bars it. I'm blowing my Dog whistle as hard as ever I can, but no sound's coming out. And I'm trying to run to the building, trying so hard my legs ache, but I'm too gods-curst slow, no matter how hard I push.

Then all of a sudden the whole thing is on fire. Flames stream out of all the windows. Even though I couldn't see the faces of them that were jumping out of the building that night it happened for real, in the dream I always see them. They're burning just like the real dead burned that night, and in the dream they were faces I know. Today it was my sisters and by brothers. They were burning alive. I was running hard to save them, but my feet hit the mud so slow, one at a time, and the burning building was moving away from me. My brother Willes was getting ready to jump. I reached out to him, my mouth open to scream

First of all, there's the opening sentence, "I had the burning man dream again." That actually tells us a lot, right there. It tells us that not only is this a dream she's had before, but that she has had it often enough that she actually has a name for it: the burning man dream.

Then we've also got the fact that Beka sees people she knows, and in this case her family, in the building. This could mean one of three -- or three of three -- things:

1) Her siblings no longer live in the Cesspool, but they used to. Beka sometimes thinks about what could have happened to her family if they had not been lucky enough to escape the slums, and this could be her subconscious doing just that.

2) Beka is from the Cesspool, and she still considers those who live there to be her own people. Even though she does not know many of them by name, or even by sight (it's a big place!) they are her own people, and the fact that her dreams put people she knows in the place of those who did die that night could indicate how she feels about the people of the Cesspool.

3) ...

I know I had a third idea, but now it's gone. Dang it.

If I had to make an argument for one and only one of these interpretations I'd go for number 2, simply because of something Beka writes in her diary in the first book: "The Lower City is MINE, its people are MINE. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for mercy, because once I get my teeth in 'em I will NEVER let them go." She says Lower City here, but I'm pretty sure that encompasses the Cesspool, and she makes it very clear that she considers them to be her own people.

So, to sum everything up...

This is a dream she keeps having, it shows her attachment to the people in the Cesspool, and it might also indicate that she fears what might be happening to her siblings if they still lived there.

This dream doesn't really do anything to move the plot of the story forward, and in fact it's totally unrelated to events in this book so far as I can tell. But it's still important because it shows us more of her character and helps to round her out.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Estraven the Traitor

I just finished reading chapter nine of Ursula K. le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, which is titled "Estraven the Traitor." It is an old story that has some relevance to current events in the book, and it's fascinating enough that I want to write about it. (Ok, the whole book is fascinating enough that I want to write about the whole thing.)



Plot summary of chapter: We have two characters, Arek of Estre and Therem of Stok. They are both heirs to their lands, and their peoples have been fighting for generations over where the border between their lands are. One night Arek falls through thin ice, but he's able to pull himself out of the freezing water and get to a house on disputed land.

Therem was all alone in that house and nurses Arek back to health. Arek says to Therem "We are mortal enemies [...] I would swear kemmering with you" (126). (Swearing kemmering is their form of marriage.) Shortly thereafter Therem's friends arrive and one of them recognize Arek as their enemy. Without warning, Arek is suddenly killed.

But Therem has already gotten pregnant by Arek, and after giving birth in secret names the child Therem and gives the baby to Arek's father, who is still the lord of Estre, saying that it was Arek's child. Once Therem of Estre is fully grown he is ambushed by rivals (who, like little Therem, are of Estre) but he manages to kill them all. Not without being injured, though. He manages to make his way to a deserted house on disputed land.

This is the same house where his parents met, and Therem of Stok finds him there and treats his wounds. Therem of Estre says to Therem of Stok"We are mortal enemies. Yet I have never seen you before. [....] I will vow peace with you" (129).

Therem of Estre became the lord of his lands when his grandfather died. And, "Within the year he ended the old feud, giving up half the disputed lands to the Domain of Stok. For this, and for the murder of his hearth-brothers [those who had tried to kill him], he was called Estraven the Traitor" (129).

Parallels in land issues

In current events in this book we have a Therem of Estre (I will call him Therem of Estre II, although he is never called that in the book), and another land dispute. Therem of Estre II's solution to the current land dispute is to move his people out of the way and give up the land. He figures that losing land is better than watching good people die.

Naturally, this isn't a decision that makes him very popular. But it is one thing that he has in common with the old "traitor" Estraven, and something which might have driven him out of his land.

Parallels in kemmering

Just like I'm calling the current Therem Therem of Estre II, I will call Therem of Estre II's old kemmering Arek of Estre II.

We know that Therem of Estre II and Arek of Estre II were had kemmering together, and that Arek bore Therem a child. I've already mentioned before that I think they as good as swore kemmering to each other, even though full siblings aren't supposed to, and that this ties into another story told. If so, and if Arek killed himself because he could not properly swear kemmering to Therem after having a child together, then that could be a parallel between Therem of Estre II and the first Therem of Estre who was called a traitor in part "for the murder of his hearth brothers" (129).


I'm still trying to figure out parallels between the first Arek of Estre and Arek of Estre II. I don't think le Guin would have given them both the same name without good reason.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chapter of miscommunication

I just finished reading chapter three on Ursula K. leGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness.


It seems to me that this chapter might be accurately called The Chapter of Miscommunication. All the bold in the quotes is my own doing, to draw attention to important points.

1) Genly is trying to explain to the king, Argaven, about the Ekumen. (The Ekumen exists to aid communication, trade, and and whatnot between the various planets. Genly hopes to convince Argaven to make his country a part of the Ekumen.) Unfortunately Argaven is trying to play a prestige game with Genly, and as Genly explains in the novel "That I was not dueling with Argaven, but trying to communicate with him, was itself an incommunicable fact" (34). Ouch. The game is lost before it's begun.

2) Argaven asks why his country should join the Ekumen and Genly tells him "Material profit. Increase of knowledge. The augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life. The enrichment of harmony and the greater glory of God. Curiosity. Adventure. Delight" (34). That sounds like reason enough, right?

Unfortunately... "I was not speaking the tongue spoken by those who rule men, the kings, conquerors, dictators, generals; in that language there was no answer to his question" (34). In other words, the answer Genly gave is completely meaningless to Argaven. Genly may as well have been speaking gibberish. And to top it off, there is no way to really answer Argaven's question.

3) Genly assures Argaven that the distance between him and the other worlds in Ekumen is so great that "forays" would not happen. But, as Genly explains to the reader, "I did not speak of war, for a good reason; there's no word for it in Karhidish" (35). Although this is not a problem in his immediate circumstances, this inability to communicate is not insignificant.

As we know from other of le Guin's books -- I'm thinking of Rocannon's World, and I think the possibility is mentioned in City of Illusion and The Dispossessed -- there will be war between the different planets, despite the great distances. It's not the same as war between different countries on the same planet because of the distances involved, but it can be just as horrific.

By rights, the fact that they expect a war will come (or wait, has it already happened by the time this book takes place...? I know chronologically this book is after The Dispossessed but I can't remember if it's before or after Rocannon's World, which is where the war begins...) is something that Genly ought to explain to Argaven.

Note to self: figure out chronological order of all these books!!

And yet, how do you explain something that there is no word for, something which would be like trying to explain fire to a fish?

So yeah, I think this counts as a major miscommunication, perhaps the biggest in this chapter.

4) Argaven sums up the problem nicely when he says "I don't speak Voidish" (38). Of course, the language of the "void" (outer space) is not actually called Voidish, further proving the point.

5) Genly tries to flatter Argaven into using the ansible. (The ansible is like a radio, expect it enables instantaneous communication between different worlds, no matter how far apart they are.) In trying to flatter Argaven, Genly says "You're a sovereign, my lord. Your peers on the Prime World of the Ekumen wait for a word from you" (38). This turns out to be a mistake, as Genly quickly realizes: "In trying to flatter and interest him I had cornered him into a prestige-trap" (38). Genly doesn't properly understand the rules of the prestige games that are played by Argaven and his people, and this leads to all sorts of trouble, such as this.

6) Genly doesn't succeed in convincing Argaven to make his country part of the Ekumen, and afterwards he reflects on everything Estraven has said to him: "He had been saying, however indirectly, that I should get away from the city and court" (42). Yes, but that's not the whole of it. Estraven wants Genly to go to another country with his message from the Ekumen. This is something which Genly fails to understand because just like Argaven doesn't speak "Voidish," Genly doesn't really understand the language of the people on this planet. Sure, he knows their words, but often their meaning escapes him, and he doesn't even know it. As we see later in the book.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"The Left Hand of Darkness"

I am re-reading Ursula K. le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness again. I think this is my fourth time reading it, but I'm not sure. I've sort of lost track, I've read it so many times. :)

Now, before I go any further...


And, you won't follow what I'm talking about unless you've already read this book.

Estraven is one of the most interesting characters I've ever read, and I think that chapter two is about him in some ways.

Chapter two is The Place Inside the Blizzard, and it is about brothers, Getheren and Hode, who vowed kemmering to each other. As I recall from prior readings of this book Estraven vowed kemmering with his own brother, Arek. Or if they didn't voice the vow, they still had an understanding and were very much in love.

Once Hode became pregnant and was ordered to separate from Getheren he took his own life, and Getheren was forced into exile because he was seen as the cause of Hode's suicide. And of course, on Winter suicide is shameful and "murder is a lighter shadow on a house than suicide" (23). Getheren curses his Hearth with his own name, and nameless walks away into the blizzard.

So, how does this relate to Estraven?

We do know that Arek died after bearing Estraven's child, but we don't know how. I think.

Note to self: take note of how Arek died, or of what is said or unsaid about his death.

Also, Estraven is in some sort of exile from his homeland. My understanding in previous readings has been that the exile was self imposed.

Note to self: take note during this reading of what is said on the subject.

Getheren finds himself inside the blizzard, which Estraven also does later in the book. Getheren has run there because of his exile, and Estraven goes there because he is helping Genly escape. Getheren finds his brother there, and in a way so does Estraven -- when Genly mind speaks to him it is with Arek's voice. It seems like I should be drawing more connections between the two here, but I'm not finding them...

Lastly, about the title of the book, and how it relates to this chapter.

Hode grasps Getheren's left hand, and Getheren "took no lasting harm except in his left hand, which was frozen and must be amputated" (26). The left hand. It seems that there is some significance there, but I'll leave exploration of that to another day. I know there are other hints throughout the book about the title, and I'll wait until I've gathered them together and can look at them as a whole.

Well, ok, I do have this to say about the title: in the past I decided that the left hand of darkness is light. So, the title might be translated to "Light". Maybe. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The exact wording...

Ok, so I just found something interesting in Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich that doesn't quite fit in the paper I'm writing (I think) but I think it's too funny and I want to write about it. So I'm turning to my book blog! :)


"…I began to think of Lulu. The truth is that I had never gotten over her. I thought back to how swiftly we had been moving toward each other’s soft embrace before everything got tangled and swept me on past. In my mind’s eye I saw her arms stretched out in longing while I shrank into the blue distance of marriage. Although it had happened with no effort on my part, to ever get back I’d have to swim against the movement of time" (124).

The italics is my own doing.

This is a vision that Nector has. Later that day he begins his affair with Lulu, and she seduces him with butter.

Well, when he gets back home that evening and tells his wife, Marie, about delivering 17 tons of butter she looks at his clothes and says "Swam in it too" (129).

Hmm, she says he "swam" in the butter, and earlier he says he'll have to "swim" against time to get back what he had in his youth...

I just thought it funny. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

To read list: 2011

Over the weekend I came up with a list of books to read before the end of calendar year 2011. This is definitely not an exhaustive list of books that I will read, but rather a list of books that, among others, I will read.

And it does not include school books! This is my own list, not a list that was created for me by professors. :)

Beka Cooper: Mastiff
by Tamora Pierce

Publication date: October 25th, 2011

This is the third book in the Beka Cooper series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Inheritance: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Publication date: November 8th, 2011

The final book in the Inheritance Cycle. I cannot wait!!!

Of course, I'll also have to read the first three books before reading this one, so this is really four books that I'll be reading this year...

One Disc World novel by Terry Pratchet

My brother has been telling me about these books and I want to read them. Or, at least one. When I do get around to reading them I'll probably just read whatever my brother puts in my hands.

Devil's Rock by Chris Speyer

Another one that my brother has told me about. He says it's got lots of awesome mythology in it, which has got me curious about it.

Septimus Heap: Syren by Angie Sage

I've read most of the Septimus Heap books, but not this one. So, I ought to read it.

Septimus Heap: Darke by Angie Sage

Publication date: June 7th, 2011

It'll be published in just a few days! I hadn't realized that. I guess I'll have to read Syren pretty soon.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I love this book. This will be the third time I've read it.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin

Another favorite of mine. I'm not sure how many times I've read it! :)

The Burning Island by Pamela Frierson

The only non-fiction on this list. I want to learn more about Pele and Hawai'ian mythology, and this seems to be a good pick to that end. I've sort of read it before, but I haven't read the whole thing. This time, I'm gonna read it cover to cover.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dreams/visions in "Thunderheart"

Libraries have movies in them too, right? So, I'm gonna talk about a movie. Ok, specifically I'm gonna talk about the dreams/visions the movie Thunderheart.


You won't be able to follow the following video unless you've already seen Thunderheart.

I went to YouTube to see if I could find the relevant clips, and lo and behold, there was one video with everything I wanted (plus a little more) in it!

I guess I'll talk about things in terms of where they are in the above video.

2:08 -- Ray sees Indians dancing and singing in a circle, and then they disappear. Exactly what this is is debatable, but I'm going with the theory that he is seeing the Indians from long ago. This would fit with the vision/dream he later has where he is running with the old ones.

This vision is the first sign that he's waking up, and is a calling to him to embrace his heritage.

2:20 -- Grandpa has asked to speak with Ray, and when Ray finally arrives has a vision and tells it to Ray (with Crow Horse translating). What Grandpa sees and tells of is apparently Ray's relationship with his father, and then his father's death.

An interesting point is that during this narrative you see the TV twice in the background. The first time is at 2:50 when you see a boy running past an adult, and this is right when Grandpa is describing how the little boy in his vision would pretend to not see his father. The second time is 3:12 when the man in the vision cannot breath, and the man on the TV is stumbling around. I hadn't even noticed this until looking closely at the clip above.

So anyways, how does this contribute to the story, other than to show that Grandpa apparently has some idea of what Ray's history is? Well, it's throwing Ray's history in his face, and forcing him to think about it. Something which he doesn't seem to appreciate. He's buried his father's memory (something which he says elsewhere in the movie...) and in the very beginning he says that his father died when he was a baby. His superior corrected him, and reminded him that his father died when he was seven years old.

If he insists that his father died when he was a baby when in fact he was seven when his father died, that's a form of denying his father's existence, and a way of breaking any connection to his father.

So I guess that this confrontation (which I think it can be called a confrontation, despite there being no raised voices, profanity, or violence) was meant to try to open Ray up just a little more to his heritage by accepting and remembering his father, rather than shutting away his father's memory. After all, how can he accept his father's people if he doesn't accept his father?

4:55 -- Ray has a vision of his father holding him when he was a boy. Ray's mother comes to take Ray away from his father, who is drunk.

It's not a pretty vision, but it forces Ray to acknowledge his father's presence in his early childhood. As such, it also opens Ray up to his father's people, and therefore his own heritage.

6:40 -- The dancing, just like we saw at 2:08. I guess you could say that this is to ascertain that he's awake and open to things?

7:00 -- The big one! This is a dream/vision in which Ray runs away from a cowboy alongside other Indians. Later Crow Horse tells him that he was running with the old ones. Also, the cowboy rides out of a graveyard that Ray later finds (and which we see earlier in the movie, though I don't know in what context...) and it's the one where Thunderheart was buried.

Doubtless I'll have more to say about this particular vision later after I've re-watched the movie and can review what Crow Horse says about it.


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