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journey of a ten through talons

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Libraries, Bookstores, Very Blurry Selfies, and Eminence: VPL Trip 2016

Last Friday, I rose early (on a Pro-D day!) and drove down to Lougheed Town Centre, where my classmates were gathered to travel downtown. Before the trip, I asked myself a few questions:

 

  • How am I going to document my learning?
    • Reflection post, photos (click here). I was planning on making a vlog, but was looking through the raw footage and didn’t find it too good (but you can still find it with the pictures). Armed with a better camera, I plan on documenting my process that way next year.
    • What am I going on the trip to ‘get’?
  • What are you going on the trip to ‘get’?
    1. Books (information about eminent person). The most obvious choice, as Internet research and documentaries won’t be enough knowledge. I might also get some ideas of who to interview.
    2. Researching at a public library (finding books through online catalogue, physically finding books, deciding what books to take out). Now that information is so accessible, there’s something very satisfying of physically using my hands to find books. I also can’t take out every book about my eminent person, so I need to be able to quickly scan through each book and determine which are best.
    3. Bonding with TALONS peers (learning about their eminent person, asking questions). This is basically a cultural event with more emphasis on the educational component. I’m excited to spend more time outside of class with my peers, especially with the scary tens.
    4. Inspiration (for eminent person, possibly through atmosphere of library/bookstore/peers?). I still not exactly sure how I’m going to tackle this project (how will I portray my eminent person). Flipping through the various ideas and opinions on Glenn Gould will hopefully give me a better idea on how to do so.

 

A Short Chronology of the Day

After meeting with the group, we boarded the Skytrain and headed to the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. At Granville Station, we split up into two different groups (quite possibly because 30 TALONS learners in a library isn’t only very loud, it’s very dangerous). My group headed into the library, but not after everyone admired the architecture and design of the building. I had done a bit of research the night before, and headed up to the 6th floor. There, I found around a dozen books about Gould (close to the whole anthology) and grabbed as many as I could. Finding a study desk near a few other TALONS, I dropped off the books before heading back down to the main floor to get my library card. Thinking I was being smart and getting my library card before the end of our time, I instead spent more than 20 minutes trying – and failing – to get a card. Apparently my birth certificate wasn’t enough to prove my identity, when others only had to show their Coquitlam library card. I was angry, mostly for the fact that I could only take out two items. Thankfully, with some bargaining, I was able to check out seven books on a Deon’s and Sophia’s accounts (thanks so much here’s a shout out).

After an awesome lunch of sushi and bubble tea, my group headed over to Macleod’s bookstore. I joked to one of my friends that it had roughly the same amount of books as the VPL, just crammed into around 1% of the space (I was only slightly exaggerating). Every nook and cranny was piled with books, and I was surprised that the very helpful employees knew where everything was. I was also surprised that there were no termites. Having been to Macleod’s before, I was elated that the music collection had vastly improved, so much so to the point that there were a handful of books about Gould, including a few first editions! The one I knew I had to buy was Kevin Bazzana’s Wondrous Strange. It was completely new for only $20 (originally $39.99) and was one of my favourites when I was speed-reading at the VPL. He also lives in Victoria and is fairly active, and may be a great interview option.

We met up back at the VPL and took the Skytrain back home, exhausted but excited to dig into our finds.

Reflection

  • What did you learn on the trip?
    • The main thing I took away from the trip, other than seven books, was a greater sense of community with the TALONS learners, particularly the grade tens. It wasn’t something that was necessarily measurable, but I was definitely felt closer with the group within a span of eight hours, similar to the orientation.
    • I also was able to feel the experience of being a researcher. I greatly enjoyed the calm but productive atmosphere of the library, and the cozy confines of Macleod’s. On my own time, I definitely want to go back to the VPL, or any library in general to work.
  • How would you characterize the theme of the trip, from your perspective?
    • Bonding/coming together. Although it wasn’t the main purpose of the trip, the group still spent the majority of the trip on transit or traveling by foot. It was in those moments that I was able to speak with people I hadn’t before, and it made the entire trip more relaxing. This trip wasn’t as academic as I though it would be – we were just finding information – the hard part (synthesizing, writing, etc.) comes next. It was a great way to spend a Pro-D day with friends, and any work that got done was a bonus.
  • How will the research trip influence the course of your Eminent Person Study?
    • Besides the obvious (getting books), I have made great leaps on my project this weekend. Before the library trip, I was overwhelmed by the tidal wave of information online and had no idea how to approach Gould. All the information looked important and necessary for my project. Now I know my themes (Gould the Producer, Gould the Performer, Gould the Person) for the project, and who I want to interview (Kevin Bazzana, Angela Hewitt/Colin Tilney) to supplement those themes. Whether the library trip influenced these gains directly or not, I’m very content with the progress I made this weekend.

25 days left!

 

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Glenn Gould: An Introduction

With less than one month left to complete this massive project, I’ve finally put something down to paper. Online paper, if that counts.

http://www.parkinggaragepolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Glenn-Gould-Source-Unknown.jpg

Perhaps the most enigmatic, eccentric, and creative pianist that has lived on the face of the Earth, Glenn Gould is my eminent person for 2016. Born in Toronto in 1932, he was incredible talented growing up, and learned to read music before he could speak. He had perfect pitch, and quickly took lessons with his mother, and later Alberto Guerrero. Gould was thrust upon the global community of classical music when he was still a teen, and toured extensively around North America and Europe. Despite reaching incredible fame as a concert pianist, he retired from the public at 31, retreating to the recording studio. Gould was a heavy hypochondriac, and was said to take 2,000 pills in 9 months on one occasion. Handshakes weren’t even permitted, as to protect his hands. However, after his death from a stroke in 1982, an autopsy showed no signs of any of the dozens of injuries Gould said he sustained. His other quirks don’t get less entertaining. He sat on an incredibly low chair, would only eat scrambled eggs at a 24-hour diner, usually in the wee hours of the morning, and portrayed various alter egos for commercials.

As for his music, Gould is most appreciated for his interpretation of the Baroque composer J.S. Bach. The unique style and energy of which he played Bach wasn’t appreciated as much for other composers, though. Many pianists and professors revile his playing of Mozart, and the controversial image that is painted of him today is something that definitely drew me to this topic. I am also an aspiring classical pianist, and find that Gould’s recordings provide a fresh take on age-old works. Gould is considered a Canadian icon, and his eminence before other classical pianists in Canada is something I am interested in studying. His character is so complex and deep that diving into in-depth analysis like the Eminent Person study will hopefully give me a brief, but important insight into his personal life.

But what I really want to learn by studying Gould is being able to bond with him through our mutual love of the piano. I want to be able to gain a larger perspective of myself and the music I am so attached to. I want to look at myself, not directly, but through the lens of a really eminent person. I believe that I can learn even more about myself this way.

I look forward to meeting you, Mr. Gould.

EDIT: Aislyn’s blog post (aislyn.talons43.ca) was really really good, and there’s some more things I want to add.

  • I’m looking at portraying Gould’s beloved chair for his speech, as he didn’t have too many close friends and relationships. It wouldn’t be stretch to consider that the chair was his closest friend.
  • How I’m going to attack this project: I’ve been considering this point for very long. Eminent is definitely not a simple, broad research project, and since Gould was a man of so many facets, I’m not exactly sure from which angle to look at him from.
  • Ideas: Gould the performer, Gould the visionary, Gould the (bad) friend, Gould the hypochondriac, Gould the producer, etc.
  • Comparison between myself and Mr. Gould:
  • Lucas Glenn
    Male Male
    Canadian Canadian
    Asian background European background
    Classical pianist Classical pianist
    Enjoyed Shakespeare and literary works Enjoyed Shakespeare and literary works
    Two siblings Only child
    Privileged upbringing Privileged upbringing
    (Hopefully not) high school dropout High school dropout
    Interested in communications (TV, radio) Interested in communications (TV, radio)

 

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The Wheel of Revolution

 

socials blog 2

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Log 8, Day 19

Onto Frost.

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Enter the Arena

Clang!

The sword thrusts towards the hoplomachus’ neck, and he sticks out his small shield with little time to spare. The hoplomachus counters with a jab towards the opposite side of his counterpart, and the murmillo struggles to move his giant shield to deflect the blow. He is caught off balance, and the hoplomachus rushes while the murmillo is still trying to recover, knocking him on his back. Crowd roaring, the victor holds his sword above the murmillo, turning his face to watch the spectators. They boo in disapproval and point their thumbs down, signifying that the loser did not fight well. The hoplomachus plunges his sword into the unprotected neck of the murmillo. Some turn away at the grotesque sight. Others continue to cheer.

Sighing, I pick up my cornu and play a jeering, embellished tune as the dead fighter is dragged away. The fresh blood of the murmillo drips across the sand, leaving a trail of beading, scarlet blood in the dusky sand before it vanishes, evaporating into the midday sun, with but a rosy stain to remember him by. A fresh layer of sand will be spread tonight, after all the bloodthirsty are gone and only the groundskeepers remain.

And so goes my life as a musician in the Roman Colosseum.

________________________________________________________________

As a musician, my job is to play music to fit the occasion. If the loser fights valiantly, the crowd can choose to spare his life, and I play triumphant music. If he gets destroyed, like the match that just occurred, he will be slaughtered.

Glancing around from my perch in the imperial box, I can see the whole crowd of thousands upon thousands. People of all backgrounds are here. The rich, the poor, and most importantly, the emperor. It’s as if all of Rome can be seen in one stadium. However, as different as they might seem, the people have clustered here for one sole purpose: blood. There are around a dozen matches occurring at the same time in the vast arena, with various different gladiators doing battle: the hoplomachus, murmillo, retiarius, galerus, and several more types. They wear different body armour and have varying styles of attack. Most of them are slaves.

Another battle has started in front of the imperial box, this one with the legendary gladiator Hilarus. He faces a volunteer by the name of Marcus Attilius. It should be an easy win for Hilarus, but the athletic Attilius is doing his best tiring out Hilarus. Most of the raucous crowd is fixated on this title fight. The music I play gradually builds until Attilius is able to upend Hilarus onto his back. The crowd lets loose a deafening roar, and every pair of eyes is glued to Caligula and his men, awaiting their decision. I also need to see if they grant Hilarus a reprieve, since my music will match their choice. But I can’t quite see…

The crowd yells even louder, but I don’t know if Hilarus has been saved or not…

Caligula would definitely save Hilarus, wouldn’t he? They know each other and are great friends…

…But what if he wants Hilarus dead? What if?

Pushing out the second thought of my mind, I tentatively play a happier melody. No one seems to react, so I build confidence until the song reaches a full crescendo.

But then Caligula starts to turn his head. And then the crowd goes silent. And all eyes go on me.

Shit.

____________________________________________________________

He stares at my frozen figure for a second, lips curling up into a smile. His fingers beckon me towards him, but it’s as if my legs are stuck in a thick mud. I can’t move…

What will he do to me?

“Someone, please give me a sword,” his voice booms. Caligula’s been known for being a cruel and tortuous man, but will he kill me? Would he kill me?

A sword is handed to him, but so is…a helmet? A tiny shield?

It hits me with such an overwhelming force that I nearly fall backwards.

Caligula wants me to fight in the arena.

I look around me, trying to spot an escape route. A single path has formed by the crowd, but it directs me to the front of the box. I have no choice. But I still can’t move. Caligula is laughing. He’s sneering.

Suddenly, a guard lifts my tiny frame and hurls me past the railing and onto the sand. I land with a sickening crack that echoes throughout the arena like thunder, and my vision nearly goes black. Staggering to my feet, the sword, helmet and shield land beside me. I gingerly pick them up, not sure in which hand the sword should rest. Almost every gladiator is right-handed, but I’ve always felt more comfortable with my left. I slip on the oversized mask, and face my opponent, feeling like a child who tried wearing his parent’s clothes. He must be a thraex, with a small square shield that barely covers his torso. I’ve only seen them fight a few times, and I have no idea what his approach is to me.

And it’s begun. I allow him to advance, watching him to see his strategy. His attacks begin, and my very slight knowledge of the sport takes over. The thraex is launching a merciless attack on me. He thinks that a quick kill will spare me in a way. But I’m not going down easily.

His footsteps are getting closer and closer. He occasionally knocks my sword to the side, like a predator playing with his prey. But I’m not going down easily.

He can’t seem to create a sustained attack, awkwardly jabbing at my sword rather than my body. The fact that I’m left-handed seems to be throwing him off balance. The majority of the crowd seems to be rallying behind me, the underdog. Every second I stay alive is another voice layered on top of another, eventually creating one impenetrable wall of sound. My body is feeding off of this energy, and I feel more confident with every parry I execute and jab I land. The thraex is getting impatient, and I sense that he wants to end this battle soon. I’m right.

The feet leave the ground first. All of a sudden, he’s hurling his bulky frame towards me. My instincts take over, and rather than trying to block his attack, which would be futile, I dive for his leg. The sword slices cleanly through the unprotected flesh, and the thraex screams. He’s dropped his sword onto the ground, and it falls far away. He’s on his back. He’s down.

I step toward him, glancing at the crowd. They roar. Without hesitating, I take my sword and drive it into the thraex’s neck as he stares at me with eyes that are as dull as a grey tile. I return his gaze, before turning to fix my eyes on Caligula. He chuckles, and tilts his head, acknowledging my victory. The rest of the Colosseum is roaring as I stride towards the Victor’s exit.

I know that Caligula’s taken notice. He’ll make sure to pit me with the strongest and most experienced fighters. I’m sure he wants me dead.

But I’m still alive.

And I’ll be ready.

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Log 5, Day 12

Before schedule!

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Log 4, Day 12

I seem to making logs in multiples of 3. Hmm.

New video is up tomorrow! This one’s about Edgar Allan Poe. I’m slightly behind schedule, as I still have to analyze a few of his poems. Expect those videos up sometime later this week.

capture

Yay editing.

As a footnote, I’m kind of happy I’m analyzing Poe’s poetry instead of his short-stories. Because they are scary as heck.

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Social Order in Our Modern Society

Social order: the term you hear occasionally, have no idea what it means other than it needs overhaul. So basically any term that involves the word “socials” (including the subject, says Mr. J!)

What even is social order? It can be broken down into two main branches in my mind: economic social order, similar to a class structure, and social social order, where general themes are dictated for a whole population to follow. They have both been changed and shaped into what they are today, and are much more recognizable than you think. *To avoid confusion, economic social order will be simply referred to as economic order, and social social order as social order. If that makes sense.

Economic Order

Economic order is the general organization of humans into different income levels, or classes. However, the social order (i.e. race, gender, etc.) can influence where someone can be put in the economic order. Some prime examples in the past of economic orders include the feudal system. It was the prevailing structure in the Middle Ages, spanning hundreds of years. The main people who would benefit from the system would be the king and nobles. On the other end of the structure, the peasants would suffer under this structure.

Simply put.

Sounds awful, right? Even though you may think that during the Renaissance and after, this system greatly changed, a variation of it still exists to this day. Right now, in the United States, 1% of the population owns the majority of the wealth. And most of the 1% are men. And most of the 1% are white men. The social order will always influence the economic order. At the bottom of the rank, a sizable number of the lower-income class work for the 1% and their businesses. The economic order is always determined by the wealthy. At the beginning of any system, there is always a pre-existing disparity in wealth. The disparity then becomes fertile soil for a new system, or variation of the system, to emerge.

Social Order

The social order is much more ambiguous in nature. It can be loosely classified as a collection of values and traditions that are infused into society today. These values are expected of a person in order to be a functional member of society. Again, these values change for each person. They can be imposed in various different settings: family values, school values, community values, and societal values. These values can be so enforced that they become interchangeable with the word “rule”. The values change between classes (economic order) because people are raised with different morals. Values also vary between age demographics. For example, as a “good” human being, I must be a polite and caring person. That is the social order I must hold myself to when I’m in public. This moral, and others, have been defined long before I was born. As a teenager, I must look a certain way, dress a certain way, and act a certain way. I must, or risk being frowned upon. Modern pop culture and large celebrity figureheads have influenced what it means to be a teenager, and how to be a teenager. Instagram, Snapchat, stylish haircut, makeup, and so on. I’ve never really liked and stood to these values. And so the question arises: Why not change him to be more like what society wants?

Trying to change others to become like the current social order has existed for centuries. Rebellious people are considered as outliers, and are not taken seriously. The general thought is that “everyone else follows the social order (on the surface), and it may be wrong, but it’s much easier to change one person’s mind than a whole group”. Take Shakespeare in his play Taming of the Shrew, for example:

For I am he am born to tame you Kate,

And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate

Conformable as other household Kates.

Petruchio, Taming of the Shrew, Act II, Scene I

Aside from the fact that the passage is put in a misogynistic setting, it’s still clear to see that even back in the Renaissance, people would change a person to be like the status quo, not the other way around, even if it was generally accepted that the status quo was wrong. And that’s like today. Sure, the Renaissance’s is far different from today: women, like Kate in Taming of the Shrew, were treated like dirt, and the Church was still arguably the biggest contributor to how people lived their lives. But we still find it far easier to change than be changed. It’s hard work. It faces obstacles from the wealthy, because they love their lives where they are. People back then probably realized that sexism was prominent in society, but didn’t act because, as discussed on Friday during Socials, they didn’t know a world where women were treated equally as men. Massive overhaul was, and still is today, scary because we don’t know what will happen.

Both the current economic and social order face opposition today. The poor are getting angry, and rightfully so. The rise of feminism, black rights, and LGBTQ rights has brought up a whole new conversation: revamping the whole system.

It’s happened before. Just Google “revolution”, and “examples”. Most influential countries today have had large revolutions, where large changes have occurred. Or so you think. Take Russia, where the Tsar ruled for years. The people were tired of suffering. They wanted a say in running the country. With those two rallying points, they overthrew the Tsar and later installed a new government: the communists, led by Vladimir Lenin. But just 15 years later, with Joseph Stalin in power, most of the people were working in factories with little pay. They believed in a cause, overthrew the status quo…and their lives did not improve, and in many ways (secret police) went down. The French people also overthrew the monarchy, survived the Reign of Terror, basked in glory when a man named Napoleon saved the nation…and watched as he declared himself emperor and crippled the population through multiple wars. Revolutions aren’t always bad: historians regard the French Revolution as one of the most important points in human history, as it helped establish republics and democracies. But the debilitating price of progress for so little gain raises another question: Is it worth it?

The Protestant Reformation was worth it. I believe that statement wholeheartedly. But the Church was in need of serious reform. A key indicator of that is the volume of support Martin Luther received during the Reformation. But in today’s society, where social and economic order are hard to find and harder still to define, is change necessary? It’s kind of like cleaning your room. It may seem annoying and impossible to accomplish, and doing it won’t achieve anything in the long run (after a short burst of change, the prevailing state (messiness) will eventually win).

In the grand scheme of things, social order is important. Social order helps organize any population as a whole, and even though parts of it are immoral and do need change, do more good to us than they think. The call to action that should be emphasized isn’t that trying to revolutionize what it means to be a socially conformable person by influencing a large group won’t work at all. But change, if change is to occur at all, must start from the inside. It’s difficult. But it’s necessary.

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