Thursday, 31 January 2013

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Analysis

The (hopefully) much awaited analysis. It is supposed to be a reflection, so in the end it morphed to that rather than an analysis, which is perfectly acceptable (as long as my readers are not bored to death.) Enjoy! As long as you've read the story you will (hopefully) understand it.

Spoiled, But Not Less Powerful
       Yes, she spoiled it for me: She came home from her literature class and spilled the tragedies that had been read off the pages of her anthology.  I listened and intermittently spoke with proper feedback as her wide eyes betrayed deeper emotions, and I vowed not to read those pages, if only to spare myself some emotions which would never amount to anything productive.  My vows were in vain, however, for while aiming and pressing to get ahead of school before it even started, I happened upon the exact work that had been spoiled for me.  Yes, the ending was known, but as I felt that wrenching feeling in my stomach, I read on, intrigued, even though the story's ending had been spoiled.

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was written by Ambrose Bierce in 1890 and published a year later (Baym 405).  The author was a writer who sought to give readers stories they would remember by merging the “hallucinatory and the paranormal with everyday events” (398). Before writing mainly about the American Civil War, however, he spent time in England, practicing his writing skills, which developed into a vivid style that burns unforgettable images on the mind. “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” follows a man falsely accused of an injustice and sentenced to death.

Interestingly enough, because I knew the final outcome, I was convinced that I would not become engrossed with the story. I was assured I was going to remain standoffish; I did not need, nor care for, any unnecessary drama.  The conclusion was known, and I was determined to simply check it off my list.  I was not going to “feel” anything about the piece, but to my chagrin, I was completely engrossed in the various pages, and it made me feel awful.  I loved it, and at the same time, I mourned.  Bierce's piece was as poignant as can be, but very convincing.  I admit I did have second thoughts as to the outcome of the main character, but all hopes were dashed to pieces in the end: Bierce had done it. He rejected the conventional ending and left me feeling devastated.

Bierce's short story did not, in and of itself, surprise me, as I knew what was at the end.  Rather, it was Bierce and his writing. It was not surprising that he accomplished his literary goal, but his goal was accomplished even though I knew the outcome.  Despite the fact that the last sentence was betrayed before I read it, the story held my attention.  My response to the finality?  Shock. Then came the shock that flooded when I realized my shock at something I had previously been alerted to.  I decided that Ambrose Bierce completed his end, for though I knew the outcome, I was affixed to his few pages.

Literary devices used within the short story emphasize the goals Bierce aimed for.  The title, “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” does no such thing as suggest or reveal pieces of the story. If anything, the title blatantly suggests a mere occurrence, nothing more.  Within as little as three pages, I felt hope, ambition, dread, suspicion, angst, and exasperation.  The man versus man conflict gave it essence; Payton Farquhar (the main character) never spied, destroyed any bridges, or stole secrets, but he was accused of these by the army and sentenced to doom.  Bierce used pathos distinctly, and those reading should sense it, as they want justice to prevail. Nevertheless, one obstacle remains: Bierce was unconventional.

Though I am an avid reader and writer, there have been few short stories or poems that shock me, but this is one I have fallen for.  Writing that captures is worth attention, and “Occurrence” not only seems powerful, but it is powerful.  I tried to remain detached, but Bierce prevailed.  I knew everything about the piece, but I knew nothing of his writing. Reading this work was more than an occurrence; it was an acclivity to an awareness of fresh unconventionality.  Some stories, much less spoiled ones, do not require happy endings in order to be powerful.

Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 1998. Print. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Of Seven Blessings

Yes, 'tis shorter this week, mostly due to school, scholarships and competitions, but at least it's here. Count your blessings!

Hosting  - Trust me, this is not the easiest to do, but serving is the main point here, and it is rewarding. In one of her books, Edith Schaeffer, speaks of how effective hosting/hospitality can be in showing others you care about them.  And you know what? It's never awkward; God blesses when you serve.                      

Prayer - We always need it! Over this past week, I prayed for people, and then surprised them by "following up" and communicated the action.  Seeing their blessed faces, even if they were not able to communicate back to me, was enough.                                                                                                  

Health – God has allowed me no sickness for months, and it has been invaluable, because doing school while sick is absolutely horrendous. I am also thankful for my family's health.

Tea and Toast – The perfect snack.

Little Trips – To Rochester and back!

Opportunities – Going to sing, going to play. Going to practice, going to write. Performing drama, being a light.

Co-ops – Who doesn't love all the little kids running around?

Have a wonderful, blessed week!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Incident at Owl Creek Bridge: Link

Soon to be posted is an analysis on Ambrose Bierce's "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.".  The writing is astounding, but one must read the story before my analysis.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sit Still?

I woke up to near -17 temperatures this morning, and for some reason, this came to mind:

I thought of family devotions we had last summer, one in particular, in which my Dad read this interesting poem to us. This particular time, Streams in the Desert was being read, and I recall being temperamental about something of small consequence. After hearing the "sit still," I knew it was meant for me, but I was annoyed, as I cannot "sit still" for too long.  Just "sit calmly" still? Ha! I wanted to know God's will then, right at that moment. I knew I wanted to follow his will to my utmost, but there was one problem: My "dear Lord's will" wasn't clear.  So now, I still sit still, but everything is much clearer, and much more exciting.

Sit Still, My Daughter 
by J. Danson Smith

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Nor deem these days--these waiting days--as ill.
The One who loves thee best, Who plans thy way,
Hath not forgotten thy great need today!
And, if He waits, 'tis sure He waits to prove
To thee, His tender child, His heart's deep love.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Thou longest much to know thy dear Lord's will.
While anxious thoughts would almost steal their way
Corroding within, because of His delay--
Persuade thyself in simple faith to rest
That He, who knows and loves, will do the best.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
Nor move one step, not even one, until
His way hath opened. Then, ah then, how sweet!
How glad thy heart, and then how swift thy feet
Thy inner being then, ah then, how strong!
And waiting days not counted then too long.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
What higher service could'st thou for Him fill?
'Tis hard! ah yes! But choicest things must cost!
For lack of losing all how much is lost!
'Tis hard, 'tis true! But then--He giveth grace
To count the hardest spot the sweetest place.
Alright, I admit; sitting still has its pros, and how glad I am that I listened.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saturday Shoot//Tiny Tracks and Hibernating Life

Nice, but cut the Automotive Vehicle...

Bird, coon tracks, and plants hibernating life.  Though some colors are bleak, I like the contrasts that end up next to one another, and the little tracks are a bit hilarious.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Of Seven Blessings

Giving - It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  As of late, it was two pairs of mittens  to bless others, and the best part of this giving was the fact that it wasn't for any particular reason. I just did it, but I ended up being blessed as well.

Confidence – Not in me: My confidence does not lie in myself, but in him who redeemed me.  That's a blessing.

Reading with Family – We like to read aloud, and the fact that we can enjoy different literature genres together gives each of us a greater appreciation for the many great works.

Studies – (And no, not school studies.) Currently, I am taking in (or reading) various intriguing, challenging, and faith based books.  It's good for my soul, and God is so good to bless us with Christian authors who write to encourage.

"A Change in the Weather..." – There was a snowy day, and there was a sunny day.  It was nice to have a slight change, as the snow had almost disappeared, thanks to the biting winds. (However: The wind and fluctuating temperatures had a great deal to do with the erosion of our snowman, and though we enjoyed the weather, our snowman did not, as today marked the day of his tragic but natural decapitation.)

Soundtracks – I do admit that movie soundtracks make up a large percentage of my music library, but I was blessed with a new and special one.  This soundtrack traversed from across the pond, from the composer's studio in England to my possession.  Because it had never been universally or even nationally released, Nick Bicat's soundtrack for the 1982 film The Scarlet Pimpernel is particularly special.

The Little Things – Unexpected journeys, writing drafts that are haphazard and then randomly decide to '"turn out," opportunities to write outside of school, and piano runs that behave.

Tomorrow I'll post a recent shoot I did, but for now, have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday Shoot//of those which block the wintry blasts

Another fun shoot, but the not very fun part was the bitter, biting wind.  Being on the top of a hill does have a disadvantage, but complain I won't; I had fun.


Thanks for looking!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Of Seven Blessings

This week, I am essentially getting ready for my last semester in high school. I won't spend much time on it; if one really wants to hear of it, I am not opposed to being asked.

I never imagined I would be where I am, where God has brought me, doing all that he already planned for me to do. But enough of my musings; I aught to write of the blessings!

Food – Because we couldn't celebrate a family member's birthday on his specific day, we did so a few days ago, with our grandparents. On accident, the food prepared by others beforehand was somehow forgot, so I stepped up and volunteered to make a tasty birthday dinner. I had three hours.  I survived (and thankfully everyone else did, too), but I found it interesting how changed plans do not bother me as much as they used to.

Piano – I have a piano competition coming up, and it's really intimidating because I am driving to another city just for the competition. However: God's been so very good, as my piece is coming along as well. The reason I wrote piano as a blessing is because I had one of the most amazing piano lessons this past week.  I am still trying to figure out why, perhaps it's because I am excited for the competition, but whatever it was, I had a exceedingly exciting lesson. The end.

Clean Rooms – So much time off from school should be spent in relaxation, especially if you go into shock from break, feeling useless and having no deadlines.  I decided to change that this break, and so I took a day and cleaned my room, because relaxing doesn't need all of my time. A clean room is a simple blessing, but it's even more relaxing and inviting.  I also have to study in my room, and a clean study space is also much easier to focus in.

PSEO Books – (And PSEO in general.) I have one shelf I keep all school books on, and at the moment, they look a bit intimidating.  It is a bit ridiculous that the art books are so very huge, but the more hefty are the Nortons.  Oh Nortons, you anthologies of criticism... . In all honesty, I am excited about them; each holds a different experience, an experience waiting for me to experience it.  I probably won't be so epiphany-minded about them in a few months, but at least I do not have to pay the seven hundred dollar bill! (...blessing)

Old Friends – (Yes, I have old friends.) This past week, we went to visit my parents' old church, and some dear missionary friends of ours.  We only see them every year and a half (or so), but it's never awkward.  And it shouldn't be: We are united in Christ, and greeting one another with that in mindset sets a stage for connectivity that cannot be broken. Though we do not see them every week at church, ever visit them, or spend extensive time with them, simply knowing them is a blessing because it stresses the fact that we hold a brother and sisterhood bond in Christ.

Water - Living far North has its quirks. Our water is not exactly wonderful (very hard, sodium high), unless it is straight from the well.  If we drink it from the tap, it's not nice water unless it's after a beautiful rain.  I am not that picky about water, but it wouldn't be good for us to drink all of our sodium, either.  We have a system though, and we're thankful for gallon jugs of clean water.  

Finding a Book – Scout and Morgan Books; three thrift stores; Cambridge Christian Books; Bear Books.  No finds.  Our church is offering a semester course on apologetics, and I, being the analyst and thinker I am, prayed about the study, then decided to try it out. Finding the book was not as easy as I thought, though.  Every time we asked of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, the clerks would escort me to the “used religion” sections.  I had to keep my self from laughing, but I also cringed at the sound of used religion.  It sounds horrific; but it made me so very grateful for my personal relationship with my merciful Savior.  The last place we checked was the ugly, horrendous, hideous, and grotesque-looking library in Cambridge.  I can't complain, though as even the ugly library is a blessing, for in it, I found one, single, hardcover 1991 edition.  The librarian did not understand my exhilaration, nor did she respond to my thanks.  We found the book, and I think I'll enjoy the course.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

On a Change

Readying for the new semester caused me to change up some living quarters.  I was allowed, for the first time in the history of my short life, mind you, to have candles in my room.  Not just one, but three.  I lit them from our fireplace (no conventional matches for me...), and then carried them upstairs.  Yes, I probably was thinking too much of Tchaikovsky's wonder-music, which also probably influenced me to be eccentric.

This photo was taken at a fun angle, and I am invisible.  I wanted my Le Sylphides poster to reflect, and I thought it ended up looking a bit surreal.  My lens is a bit funny as well, but I liked the color, and natural light is the best.

the end.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Of Seven Blessings

I neglected my writings this past weekend due to sheer exhaustion, but I am up and running again. From now on, I hope to post this section on every sixth or seventh day of the week.

After the bustle of Christmas and New Years, we were able to spend some much needed time at home, simply relaxing. Bidding the world goodbye, we holed up in our "mansion on the hill" and listened to the repeated cries of others exhorting: "Don't let the fires go out!"

This call, to not let the fires go out, reminded me of how often our hearts need to be on fire for our Savior, which is why I am posting of thankfulness, because when I am thankful for Him, I love Him; and when I love Him by being thankful for blessings he gives me, it is just one small way to give him glory.

Snow - In order to get our mail, we must first trek down our long driveway.  The other day, while I walked in the middle of the road, the snow was falling in a light dusting and delicate flakes clung to my scarf and mittens. Snow, here and now is a constant reminder of God’s utmost attention to detail and intricacy.

Splitting Logs - No matter how hard it is (or how long it takes…) the effort spent on log-splitting lends the heat and warmth of the fire a more weighty meaning.  We’re proud of it, yes, but God blesses us with work so we can benefit and rejoice in him for the fruits of our labor.  (And trust me; laboring in this way is quite worth the exertion.)

Animal Tracks – Living where we do has its surprises, although we are never actually surprised.  We find up to five or more different kinds of tracks.  The phrase “when the cat’s away the mice will play” is all too true, for when we go to bed, the coyotes, mice, rabbits, deer, and lone cats emerge.  In the morning, we wake to find evidences of scampering and prowling. It’s on my list this week because I think these signs of life are entertaining blessings.

Sledding Hills - Three pastures means three pastures, but since we have a house on a hill flanked by two of the pastures, one possesses an exceptional downward slope.   This downward slope is advantageous in more ways than one: Dangerous jumps and paths with quick turns are the most exciting, but parents are content, no driving is necessary because the hill is outside our front door.

Stories of the Old Testament – I can never get enough of them.  I love reading books, and one of the reasons is because I am able to observe personalities and characters interact with one another.  With the Old Testament, however, God gives us the “big picture,” and reading these stories makes me think about how ridiculous I am at times. (And I thought the Israelites were obnoxious!) In all seriousness, the stories bless me because each one speaks to a different area in life, areas which need attention, and the stories only emphasize that I am a work in progress. 

Two Days - Over the past week, there were two days we spent completely at home, not going anywhere. Even the grocery store was not graced by our presence.  After New Year’s Day, I relaxed (well, washed dishes), read books, baked bread, knit, listened to music, and practiced my own music.  I also went sledding in the dark with my brother (do not try this at home…), and we almost died laughing at ourselves. 

The Hobbit – When our entire family was together for an afternoon, we took a literal unexpected journey to the Cinema.  Our unexpected journey was pleasant and enjoyable, and we watched The Hobbit.  From 4:30 – 7:30 pm, the other movie-goers had to put up with the family of six directly below them.  We probably guffawed too loudly at our favorite parts, but we did refrain from cheering at certain others, but only for consideration of others.  It was the first movie we saw together as a family, and yes, that classifies it as a blessing, as every member enjoyed it. Immensely. So here's a little poster. I loved the design in it, especially the way everything blends into everything else without seeming crowded. Design is amazing, but God's even more amazing to bless his people with creativity!

Have a good week!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

cogitens pro novus annus: Thoughts for The New Year

This is for the New Year, 
The Old has come and gone.
The large, old clock I do hear, 
But no more do I frown.

Wanting to post on the first day of the year, I do. I have nothing profound to write, but I've done this before (when the date was 08/08/08 or 12/12/12), and now that it's 1/1/13, I do it again.

Thinking of poems for New Years, everything was themed with how shocking it is that time passes so quickly. "Fast happy days" and those "swift in flight" do not hold their own, as the importance of these small hours. (Which is one reason I did not pen a New Year's poem.)

Previously, when a New Year came, I looked on it as something taking me farther and farther away from little things I grew up with; those familiar, as well as those I had to work very hard for. As the days passed, I grew upset; I could not stop time, and it was taking me farther and farther away from something I knew so well.

But God has changed all that: I am no longer afraid with a sinking feeling when the clock sounds its chimes.  He knows the plans he has for me, and even though we do not know all that is ahead of us, we should not look upon time as one of the many forces (as Thomas Hardy's “Immanent Will”) that cannot be stopped. We are not given experiences and gifts only for time to take us away from them; no, we are given gifts such as time. Yes, it carries us forward, but God arranged it to carry us to what he planned.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:11-13