Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 – correcting my mistakes

This year I have English literature and Culture as one of my in-depth subjects. After learning more about Shakespeare these past two weeks, I have come to realize just how wrong I was when I tried to analyze Sonnet 18 last time. What mistake did I make? I made the mistake of underestimating Shakespeare’s work, choosing to only focus on what first meets the eye. This is, therefore, an attempt to make up for that ignorance I showed last time.


Sonnet 18 is a Shakespearian sonnet, meaning that it is divided into 4 quatrains, each with 4 lines, and a final couplet (2 lines). It is in the final couplet one often finds the true meaning of the sonnet, and in the case of sonnet 18, the lines are a big part of understanding that it is simply not only a declaration of love. Furthermore, the sonnet has the form of abab cdcd efef gg, meaning that the last word on line 1 rhymes with the last word on line 3 and the last word on line 2 rhymes with line 4 and so on.

First, Shakespeare asks if he can compare his loved one to a summer’s day. He debates around whether it fits or not, as she is lovelier and more temperate, and the summer often is too short, the sun too hot and the wind too rough. However, the focus on summer coming to an end can be seen as a parallel to her beauty and how it will eventually fade. Therefore, he begins to refer to her as an eternal summer that will never fade away and die. The twist to this declaration of love becomes clear from line 12- 14, where he shifts his focus, and begins to talk about his eternal lines. As long as his work can be appreciated and read, her beauty will be shown to people. Therefore, one can say that the sonnet is really a tribute to poetry itself, making it a Meta poem (a poem about a poem).

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

– Kristin

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J. K. Rowling’s commencement speech (2008)

A commencement speech might only appear as different word put together to make people listen for a couple of minutes. And it is. Simultaneously, it can be so much more. J. K. Rowling’s commencement speech for Harvard graduates in 2008 falls into that category. She goes about it the right way by capturing people’s attention and then giving them something to think about.  In her speech she takes about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Two rather alternative subjects as the audience were Harvard graduates. But who are better to learn about the benefits of failure than those who probably fear it the most? And who other than J. K. Rowling could we trust to emphasize the positive aspects of a vivid imagination?

First, when listening to Rowling’s commencement speech, it becomes clear that she uses rhetorical devices. Rhetoric is the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. For instance, she has several allusions to her own book series, namely Harry Potter. By mentioning and joking with it in the beginning of the speech, she makes people really pay attention and have fun. Humor is, therefore, central in making an interesting commencement speech. Furthermore, she uses herself and her life experience to illustrate how it was to be seen as a failure and how it made her grow as a person. Not only are the stories themselves captivating, they bring the speech together, and the message comes across much more powerful when it can be related to a person.

Relating to a person’s story and using your imagination was, not surprisingly, a central theme in Rowling’s commencement speech. As the author behind the Harry Potter books and a former employee at Amnesty International, she has learned just how important it is to be able to relate to other peoples stories. “Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.”(Full speech here) In her speech for the Harvard graduates she also points out the importance of using the ability to relate. By not empathizing, we indirectly enable real monsters through our apathy.  People should, therefore, not be afraid to put themselves in other’s shoes, because it can be an experience that gives knowledge an insight to unknown situations and problems.

The last subject that Rowling talked about was the benefit of failure. And that brings me back to my opening statement, namely that successful people fear failure the most. The Harvard graduates are most likely hardworking students who are used to doing well and, therefore, also afraid of not reaching the expectations they set themselves or those who have been set for them. However, failure is something that makes you grow as a person and it tests the relationships you surround yourself with. Despite it not being fun, it can be seen as a good opportunity to strip away the inessential and focus on what is important for you. Imparting that message to students who were stressed about their future was, therefore, a smart decision.  Even if you fail at important tasks in your life, there is a light in the end of the tunnel, because failure itself is not only negative. “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.


And by that being said, I wrap up this school year with international English. It has been an experience, allowing me to write and unfold myself in a way that I have not done before. I have also been featured on national radio, in the newspaper and on BBC, something which did not even cross my mind as possible when I started the blog. Also, thank you so much for the comments and the feedback throughout the year. Have a nice summer vacation!

–          Kristin

harvard

jk rowling

English- language media

Hi!

This post is written to cover my last competency aim, namely to analyze the role of some English- language media in the international society.  

Media play a big part in influencing people. Whether the goal is to sell a product, impart an important case or set the standards in today’s society, they function as the fourth estate, meaning that their power is immense. Still, media written in certain languages have more power than others. The question is therefore, what role has the English- language media in this maze of languages and cultures we know as the international society?

In the world of media there is especially one language that stands out, and that is English. It is the native language for approximately 360 million people and the second language for about 430 million people, giving newspapers and magazines, let alone articles on the internet, a broad audience. (Wikipedia) It is, therefore, natural that most information will be found in English and that the different media have more penetrating power than, for instance, Norwegian- language media. An example of that are articles written on subjects like medicine. Today, all the most influential medical journals are written in English, and English has become the language of choice at international conferences. Where the medical terms were in former times derived from Latin or Greek, English has now become the joint language. (Medical English).  The focus in today’s society has shifted from using different languages, towards having a joint language one can communicate with, namely English. That gives the English- language media a central role transmitting information.

However, there are other examples which are more pressing when showing the role English- language media has in the international society. Even though it can be wrong to pin the responsibility of today’s expectations regarding looks on only one language, the magazines in English are central in developing an international standard. Despite the fashion industry doing what they want, magazines have the choice not to publish pictures of thin models and stop retouch images. As English is an important language in the fashion industry, and the magazines written in English have a big audience, they help communicating images which can hurt their readers’ self-image. Furthermore, TV-shows in English and films from Hollywood often help contributing to the focus on looks and appearance. Films, TV-shows and magazines in English are, therefore, important when it comes to setting an international standard on how people should look and act.

To conclude, English- language media play a very central role in the international society, probably the most central, as it is read on a global scale and reach a bigger audience than most other languages. Consequently, it is important for the media to be aware that power and not misuse it.

Have a nice day!

– Kristin

Too tired to think

Her eyelids flutter like the wings of a butterfly, threatening to close. They get heavier and heavier, yet she pushes through. Half awake and half asleep she does her best to prepare for the following day.  Still, no matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember what she just read. In one ear and out the other. Day after day, week after week.

In today’s society there is especially one thing that people, in particular the younger generations, struggle with, namely the pressure to be perfect. It is common knowledge that you should be good looking, healthy and successful, both in your private and your public life. Speaking of private life, does that exist anymore, now that people share pictures on Instagram, their life story on Facebook and their thoughts on Twitter? The pictures and stories from magazines and the internet reach us every day, adding to the pressure, not letting us relax.  Being the perfect student, the perfect employee and the perfect girlfriend/ boyfriend is more than a fulltime job. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Look your best and do your best.

You can say what you want to yourself, suppressing the signals from your body. In the end, however, you reach a point where you cannot push your limits any further. There is a point when the body shuts down and refuses to be abused. Reaching that limit is a terrible thing, as you no longer feel in control of your body. From being able to always pay attention, you can fall asleep in class as you no longer sleep during the night. The concentration is gone and it feels as though your brain is full, yet so empty. Walking around constantly stressed and in panic mode leaves you with a tunnel vision. There is simply no way to collect yourself in time to access the part of your brain that stores the facts for your test. Just imagine what it feels like to have your heart pounding at every sound, as if you are about to be attacked. Simultaneously, imagine what it feels like to be so tired that you cannot sleep, only focus on a spot on the wall.

Pressure is something that can challenge people and help them to grow as a person. Yet, when the pressure gets so big that it crushes even the stronger ones, it is time to react. We can only take so much, people are not perfect, and it is time to accept that. School is meant to prepare us for what comes later on in life. However, the focus has shifted from achieving new knowledge to testing students so often that they have no way of learning everything they are supposed to. Am I the only one who does not get the point in removing the joy of learning, only to replace it with stress and more pressure? It is not accidental that young people get burnt- out before they even reach the proper work life. Students are expected to do well at school, be social and look their best, alongside having a job. And grownups call us a lazy generation?

She looks at her paper, but the numbers and words do not make any sense. Her eyes get wet and tears come streaming silently down her face. In order to feel like she is doing something productive, she starts to draw on the other side of the test. It is simply too much to handle. She is too tired to think.


Coldplay- fix you

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

– Kristin

Earth Day- A greener city

Hi everybody!

Today, April 22, is the earth day, which was established to protect our environment. This year the focus is on making the cities greener, thus my subject is chosen amongst the things I think can be done better in my own little city, Sandvika.

Sandvika is a little city approximately 20 kilometers south of the capital, Oslo. Over the next years, it will be almost totally rebuilt, making room for many new buildings with the need of an efficient heating and cooling system. As the winters in Oslo, Norway are quite cold, it is necessary to have a well-functioning system to heat public and private buildings.

A geothermal heat pump, or ground source heat pump, is a central heating- or cooling system that transfers heat from the ground. Since the temperature underground is consistently higher than on the surface, the pump only has to force a transfer of heat in order to work. More precisely, heat pumps can transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space, against the natural direction of flow, or they can enhance the natural flow of heat from a warm area to a cool one. (Wikipedia)

By using the geothermal heat to warm up buildings, we can reduce the use of electricity. In Norway, we mostly use energy extracted from falling water to generate the power to warm up buildings. As the water power is high-quality, meaning that the energy is easily usable, it would make more sense to use it in other processes demanding a higher level of energy quality. Low- quality energy, on the other hand, is difficult to extract, thus better to exploit in processes needing a lower energy quality, like heating. Geothermal heat pumps do exactly that, they extract the heat from the ground to use when heating, or cooling, buildings.

To summarize, Sandvika city will undergo a big change in the upcoming years. By using a sustainable way of heating the new buildings, we can make the city a bit greener.

ghp

This is a photo showing how a geothermal heat pump can work.

–          Kristin

Why I agree with Edward Snowden

In class last week we learned about the whistleblower Edward Snowden and his effort when it came to making the public aware of the surveillance carried out by, amongst others, the NSA.

Edward Snowden

A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. (Wikipedia) Edward Snowden exposed an extensive surveillance, making him one of the most famous whistleblowers of our time. In fact, he stands behind the biggest leak of top-secret surveillance documents of all time. The files he leaked showed, for instance, that each day, the NSA gathers approximately 2 billion data connected  to personal information from mobile- companies, social medias, mail and other websites. (News-article 31.01.2014, Aftenposten) These files, leaked to newspapers like the Guardian, have resulted in an extensive debate about personal security and the definition of spying.

The NSA has a different definition of spying than what most people would have. According to them, they are not spying when they are gathering information about people. It can only be seen as spying if they are intentionally looking for something. Furthermore, there is a co-operation between several countries, like England, making it possible to share already gathered information. This agreement leads to a further distribution of sensitive information.  However, it is not classified as spying, they have managed to find loopholes in the laws.

Because the surveillance is so extensive, I think Snowden did the right thing when leaking the documents. Even though leaking classified information is illegal, I believe that the surveillance done by the NSA is worse. As he only leaked the documents to newspapers, making them in charge of deciding what people should know, he did not do it to benefit himself, and that is important.Furthermore, the leakage of these documents has made it possible to openly discuss the surveillance. Having the knowledge about actions carried out by the governments is central in making a change. I believe that people have the right to know, if not all, a bit of what is happening around us. Edward Snowden made that possible. He gave people the opportunity to protect themselves and voice their opinion on the matter.

On the other hand, I understand that it is important for a government to have some knowledge about their population. In order to have control and prevent dangerous situations it is central to have information available. However, there is a line between having the knowledge and having total control over the population. Gathering sensitive information brakes with the right of privacy, and there is no way to object to it if we do not know what happens.

To conclude, I think Snowden’s decision to leak documents containing information about surveillance was right. Even though it is important for the government to have knowledge about their inhabitants, there is a line that definitely has been crossed. Edward Snowden has given us the opportunity to change the way the surveillance works and regain parts of our privacy by speaking up. The public should have a say in this.

What do you think about this?

–          Kristin