What Has Happened to Time?

Time is something which we seem to overlook, until it passes us by. What keeps us in check throughout the day? Is it the position of the sun in the sky, the number of time we can count to one hundred? No. The clock is what we revolve our lives around. What time do you work? Scheduled hours, appointments, meetings—all of these revolve around looking at the number on a clock and our so called idea of time. It hasn’t always been this way however. Long ago, before clocks, people chose to look at time in a different matter. Time could be the length between suns, it could be the amount of the day (or days) between which food is captured, picked, or consumed. In a less structured, less technological life, time is something which becomes seemingly even more abstract. The day is no longer broken up into hours, minutes, and seconds but rather something more primal. This may be the time between sunrise and sunset, or the changing of the moons.

There is then also the concept of time not in minutes or hours, but in a more general form. In The Stone Gods,the main character Billie finds herself in so many different ‘times’. In the first part of the book, Blue Plant, she finds herself in a world were robots (Robo Sapiens among others) can be found, and are on their way to taking over every activity which humans would normally do. Money and buying things don’t exactly exist anymore—instead people rent their items except for groceries and toiletries. This makes them more eco-friendly as well as economical. However in this world where money no longer exists, and robots roam streets and share homes with humans, the world is in dismal shape. Pollution is dreadful and one of the only places which seems pristine throughout the entire story is Billie’s farm. This farm is actually part of a museum site as it is the only working farm left. People look down with disgust at the time when humans actually grew their own food and slaughtered their own animals to eat. They find it dirty and repulsive, showing that the time in which the Blue Planet is set is most likely somewhere in the future. The problem is, we never actually find out at which time these sections of the book occur in. While it can be deducted that this part of the book is set in the future and that the Easter Island section of the book takes place in the past, it is never easy to pinpoint exactly when events are occurring. Should it even matter? What do the past, the present, and future have to do with anything if time is not concerned?

Is time just something which is created by the government to keep us in check? While it sounds like a ridiculous conspiracy theory, it may never be known. They do tell everyone how money, real estate, citizenship, and so forth work, so why not time? It sounds like something which could happen in The Stone Gods, does it not? Personally, I feel as though time is something which humans feel a need to use in order to keep their lives in check. These days it seems as though people crave routine, knowing what they will be doing day after day if only so they can plan their days off. What would happen if there were no such thing as time? You could go out to buy groceries only to see that the store was using a different sense of time then you were. It would throw the world as we know it into complete chaos. Time is definitely something which cannot be rid of at this point. Humans have come to rely on it as a commonality. Time is something we all share, no matter where in the world we live. It is a language of the world in itself, and functions as an idea which we all seem to understand. In today’s world time is what keeps us going, keeps us motivated. While this may not have always been what it was for, the world today has created its own meaning of time and the only question now is what will happen in the future. 


The Technological Evolution: For Better or for Worse?

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a robot (or a robo sapiens)? Is there actually an answer? The Stone Gods makes us question this throughout its entirety as we learn different characters views. Is it consciousness, emotion, or something else? In order to be human must you be able to think for yourself? In the story are humans even that different from this evolving robotic species? At least robo sapiens can think for themselves. While many state that they cannot have emotions, Spike shows that it is possible—although it isn’t clear whether she is the only one who can do so. Actually thought processes and connections seem to be less and less in humans as the years pass according to this piece. Is this happening in the current world today too?

While it may not be to as large of a degree, people are having to think less and less for themselves. Today technology is so ‘necessary’ for everyday life to occur. How would we be able to send in our papers, look up directions, and even talk to people if it wasn’t for technology? Today people are so reliant on their technology whether it be their smartphone, laptop, gps, or tablet. It is something we would not find ourselves without, as we would no longer have everything at our fingertips. Instead we would actually have to go out of our way to try and acquire information without the help of a computer system.

Instead of playing outside these days, children seem to be spending more and more time inside with their pieces of technology. They have less interest in nature and more as to what their friends are saying or posting on their social media sites. But we cannot forget about nature and the environment as a whole. As we create these new technologies we are helping ourselves in some ways, but hurting ourselves as well. While some of the creations that have appeared because of current technology are helping us realize the extent of our warming crisis, there are so many more which are causing the problem to continue. Cars are being churned out still, with no massive increase in miles per gallon. We still have thousands of factories which are being run off of fossil fuels, and millions of homes which are being powered the same way. We have realized that a problem has been occurring and that we  may have ways to help limit the damage to the environment, but choose to go the easier and cheaper route and continue to destroy our world. What may come of it, no one knows, but humans don’t start seeing the warning signs will the same thing happen that did in The Stone Gods and the story of the Blue Planet? Will we have to try and seek out a new place to live or just deal with the consequences? Only time will tell, but this story definitely served as a warning sign as to what is occurring in this world today. 

Historians, History, and all those Pesky Details

When you ask yourself what history is and what historians do what automatically comes to mind? To me, it’s this picture of this old man sitting at his desk which is piled high with various books, knick knacks and papers flying everywhere while the shelves in the room are covered with a thick layer of dust. Obviously there is much more to historians and history than that but I’ve never gone out of my way to try and figure out what it is that really makes historians tick. In order to understand historians, the first thing to figure out would be what history actually is. Is there a difference between history and doing history?

According to Bailyn history has two meanings. The first is simple—history is just what has happened and the events, developments, circumstances, and thoughts of the past as they actually occurred. The second type of history is knowledge of what has happened, this being the record of what occurred. (7) Gaddis brings many ideas to the frontline, including the view that modern day historians have it much harder than past historians based on the fact alone that they have more history to deal with. (4) His tellings of history and historians is a bit more difficult to understands as his explanations take part by comparing two paintings—those by Picasso and Van Eyck. By using these paintings as ways to view history, Gaddis shows us that there are different ways that one can view history. There are those who will be very keen on finding specific details which tell us about even the smallest bits of what was happening during a certain era or time period. Then there are others who look completely past the details and instead choose to turn things over to emotion instead. These historians may be more apt to ‘feel’ things out rather than to piece all of the little details together to discover what may have happened to something and why. While I don’t know much about painting at all, I do know that all art shares these types of themes. Those arts which may invoke more of the emotions are those which may be more abstract. You may not be able to clearly see all of the details in the work, but the overlying message is extremely clear, deep, and meaningful. However there may also be some works in which every detail in the composition is clear and therefore brings vast understanding to the viewer.

Bailyn takes a similar path in explaining different types of historians as Gaddis does when explaining history and the paintings. According to Bailyn a historian is someone who recovers evidence from the past which shows what has happened. This means that historians are found in places other than educational institutes. Historians can be anything from scholars to government workers to journalists. Each historian will have a different take on what they are studying from others because they can bring the field that they are strongest in, such as journalism, and use that to make history come to life. A journalist has been taught how to create a story which is extremely vivid. They would be able to take all of those small details and use them to their advantage when they are trying to tell the story that a piece of history is attached to. An educator may choose to ignore certain miniscule details in order to teach others of the greater message which can be received through understanding a certain piece of history. In the world of history it seems to be a ‘to each their own’ type of philosophy where each historian will view history in their own unique way. 

Bloom, Atlas, and Zappa


Frank Zappa seems to believe that Bloom’s views in The Closing of the American Mind are completely backwards, and that he needs to look at things from a different vantage point. In this interview which is conducted with Zappa, it seems that he is only presented with certain pre-chosen sections to which he has to reply. These include subjects such as the nature of music, the dark forces of music, the rock business, the difference between classical and rock, etc. In these passages we see both sides of the fence—both that from a musician (Zappa) and that of an author/educator (Bloom). Take for example, the passage on the difference between classical and rock music. Bloom states that “Rock music provides premature ecstasy and, in this respect, is like the drugs with which it is allied…These are the three great lyrical themes: sex, hate and a smarmy, hypocritical version of brotherly love…Nothing noble, sublime, profound, delicate, tasteful or even decent can find a place in such tableaux.” Zappa takes this and completely flips it on his head. He states that the real difference between classical and rock music it actually its form. Classical pieces have to fit in a sort of preconceived context where a symphony has x, y, and z. A concerto may have a, b, and c. If pieces don’t meet certain specifications then they are not actually a symphony, concerto, and so forth. Rock and Roll on the other hand is a more creative outlet, although there are still steps to fill. If you don’t care if your piece is on the radio, then you can pretty much do whatever you want. However, if you want your piece to be a hit, then it still need an intro, verses, bridges and a final fade out. Zappa shows how classical and rock are  both the same and different, and how rock completely doesn’t fill the themes which Bloom states in his work.  

It’s hard to know if this is actually a critique which we can gain insight from—mainly because we don’t know how much Zappa knew about the entirety of the text, if he had read it before, if the selections were chosen by him, or were pre-chosen because the interviewer knew what questions may push his buttons. Even having not yet read the entire piece, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the questions were probably chosen in advance and that Zappa may not understand some of the backstory which goes on with why Bloom may have written what he did. It should also be questioned whether Zappa knew about how blunt Bloom was in his writing, and that he was full of opinions which could either be agreed with or not.

As for why Atlas believes that Bloom actually wrote an autobiography, it seems to be summed up in the last two pages of the article. On page five, Bloom states that he’s not a writer. Instead he states that his life is a series of accidents that add up to a unity, and that he ended up writing a book about the life he’s lead. He believes that what happens in these stories which have occurred throughout his life are the important aspects from which people should take something away, even if they don’t agree with his opinions.

What has Happened to the Value of Literature?

     It used to be that books played a substantial part in every-day life. Whatever happened to not only the thought of reading every day, but also the action? In Europe,  it used to be that children would find themselves immersed between the pages of a book, and that they would not only read during school but also for themselves later at home. Ambitions were formed by reading said books, and by following their ambitions, students found themselves on a quest for knowledge. (47) It could be said that the opposite was happening in the United States. Students left high school knowing only a handful of authors, and many of them flocked to college for majors other than classic literature, or any sort of English degree at all. While the fact that they left high school knowing so few authors was absurd, it ended up being a sort of saving grace. When Europeans went to college, they were already burnt out with the classic authors and wanted something new and more experimental. Americans instead saw these classic authors as deep inspirations, and steps which they wanted to follow in one way or another. (48) With these differences between American and European students, one of the key facts is that in the end most end up knowing the works of at least a handful of authors. The old classic works became something which hopefully every student would know of. At some point or another, the value of the text will be realized. For those who grew up reading classic works, some of the key attributes, plotlines, and messages may go unnoticed either by naivety or just by lack of worldly experience. For those who experience the text at an older age however, may gain more from the text as they may have been through similar life experiences, and may understand some of the dark humor, satire, or hidden messages in the pieces.

     Unfortunately, there has been a declining interest in books and the lessons they have to teach us. When students are asked what novels have influenced their lives or made them change the way they look at the world, how many actually have an answer? According to Bloom, even in the sixties the answers were far and few between. (63) Instead of looking to books for answers of how people really are, they look to the media and ‘pop psychology’ instead. (64) Students no longer feel the need to value literature as it once was. Bloom believes that they don’t dig any deeper than this, which is a tragedy in so many ways. Almost all value in books seems to be lost, as interest dwindles quicker than ever before.  By not taking even the slightest bit of time to delve deeper into literature, students are setting themselves up for a world in which they are “…spiritually unclad, unconnected, isolated, with no inherited or unconditional connection with anything or anyone”. (87) If students began to realize the value which these books gave them, then they may not be so disconnected. They could learn of the trials and errors of characters in numerous works such as Gilgamesh and the Tempest, of philosophical discoveries and ideas in works by authors such as Camus and Kant, and of other countries and cultures inner workings by reading foreign pieces. By doing this, students would not only bring value back into literature, but would also be able to see the world in a completely different lens. 

Philosophy, the Socratic Method, and Euthyphro

Philosophy, in a nutshell, is the love of knowledge. Philosophy is a field in which one can dabble for ages, and still feel as though they have made no progress in figuring out what is really going on in the world, and how great minds work. It is something which is extremely personal and different to every person on this planet, as we all have different ways of thinking. We all grew up in different circumstances and with differing educations, views, and virtues. Because of this, everyone’s outlook on philosophy is able to vary from one another’s.

The Socratic method is just one snippet of philosophy—albeit one which is extremely useful in aiding us when we are looking for truths. Instead of calling for one branch or allegiance to a certain type of philosophy, it allows people to just use their own common sense. Because it calls for something as simple as common sense, everyone is able to understand and use the process. Through different life experiences, people will create their own sense of this Socratic method. What may seem like common sense and common knowledge to one person, may be something which another person may have never experienced, even if they only live a few houses away. You may have never questioned a certain statement because you never had any reason to believe that it may be false. It may have been an idea which was unfamiliar, and therefore something which you never believed you would have to understand later in life. Sometimes this is not the case however. You may find yourself dissecting and examining what you once thought was the truth in order to find out what it really means. This could take anywhere from days to years. There also is the chance that you may not every find the truth, but instead have even less  of an idea of what it means then when you started your quest for knowledge.

Socrates’ written work Euthyphro, is one which takes the Socratic method, and shows it in action. Euthyphro is a character in the book who claims to be an expert on religion—although he was somewhat tricked into this discussion due to his seemingly inflated ego and conceitedness. Socrates asks him question after question, trying to find flaws in Euthyphro’s views on religion by leading him through his own viewpoints so he can see the flaws in the web which he has stitched himself.  Socrates continues to hold constant respect for Euthyphro throughout their dialogue, and lets Euthyphro act as the teacher—he does believe he is the expert after all. By doing this, he sets Euthyphro up to analyze and find fault in his own explanations rather than Socrates having to shoot down all of his viewpoints in a way which would make him seem disrespectful, pompous, and possibly uneducated. Socrates uses the Socratic method to make both of them think, and to come out of the conversation knowing not only more about each other, but also each other’s viewpoints, and why their minds work the way that they do. 

The Socratic Method

Socrates questioned the authority of tradition, and instead delved into the depths of reason. His ‘Think-Academy’ is said to be a place where civic corruption was founded, and where young people can learn to justify beating their parents. The Socratic way of life unsettled many of the Athenian people, especially leaders, as they believed that the younger people would search for arguments to justify their beliefs instead of following in their parent’s footsteps, as well as those of the authorities. Because of this, Socrates was blamed of cultural disharmony. (15)

This debate between Socrates and the authorities of Athens is one which is extremely valuable for present education. People are now leaving these college “Think Academies’ with eye opening beliefs and opinions on ideas and controversies which were never apparent before, such as issues surrounding race, gender, social justice, patriotism—the whole lot of it. (16) Students are beginning to ask questions and challenging authorities themselves, when before they would never do such a thing on such a wide-scale. Students are learning to strongly defend their arguments as opposed to settling on what the ‘truth’ is. They are learning to dissect stories and information which appear in sources such as newspapers, and to argue about current controversies, and to think critically about political and religious views. (18)

Of course, many of the parents of these students may find this learning style quite appalling. Argument is something which may not be welcome in the home—instead it may be a very unlikeable guest. The great emphasis on reason may make the person making the argument seem distant and rather cold at time, but they are presenting the facts. When students are talking to others, including their parents, about arguments they may come across as a completely different person than they were before they started taking such philosophically heavy courses. The way that they are taught the think about the world has completely changed. They may question ideas and opinions which they had once never had a second thought about.  It may seem as though traditions are being ripped apart at the seams and being dissected on the dining room table, but this should not alarm others. (18) Instead, they should be in awe by what the student is doing. They are taking a piece which everyone has come to accept as true, and absolutely submerse themselves in it until they have reached a solid conclusion of what the piece or idea really means.  It is partly because of this that Socratic argument comes across as arrogant and elitist in the Western culture.  (19)

Socratic argument is neither  undemocratic, now subversive of the just claims of excluded people. (19) A democracy should take into account the what is the best for the greater good, and that citizens must have the capacity to be able to reason on some sort of level about their current beliefs. You don’t want people voting on something which they have never questioned and do not understand in the slightest bit beyond the definition. You want them to look critically at the problem which is at hand and think about how they could make a difference, what the difference may be, and how they might make the argument clearer to others. (19) We should reason together in a Socratic way instead of being tied down by our original beliefs and traditions. By doing this, we can become a much stronger and healthier society. 


What exactly is a classic? Is it limited to one type of writing, or is it even a label which can be placed on other works as well? Depending on who you ask, you may get differing answers. However, all classics have at least one thing in common—they have surpassed the test of time and are still around for people to read, listen, and learn from.  There is something which sets it apart from other works, something which continues to ring true years after its publication or establishment. People may also think of classics as pertaining to ancient Greek and Roman mythologies among other works. Philosophical works such as those posed by Plato and Aristotle also are revered as classics.

Gilgamesh is one of these so-called classics. What type exactly? The type which makes people really think and tugs at their emotions, years and years after it was written and published. One of the things which I believe helps make it a classic is the fact that it tells us so much about ourselves. The translator states this in the introduction to his version, and also states that the voice it gives to fear of death and grief is something more powerful than any book written after it. (p. 1) Gilgamesh makes readers take a step out of their comfort zone and experience emotions and situations which may normally make them uncomfortable, such as what goes on between Gilgamesh himself and Enkidu. Their friendship starts out on shaky legs, and they go through many stressful, daunting, and aggravating situations with each other until the inevitable happens and death comes forward.

Even though Gilgamesh is not entirely human, the way the work is written and translated appeals to our human instincts and emotions, something which a classic should be able to do in multiple ways, shapes, and forms. As times change and we evolve as individuals, cultures, and as an entire world, we still find lessons in this book which we can use to help ourselves become better people. The fact that this is attainable thousands of years after it was written show the true colors of this classic tale. 

Gilgamesh and Mythology


Mythology is something that we have all heard of, but find extremely difficult to describe.  How does one even begin to describe something as complex as mythology? The study of myths is far too broad of a definition to even grasp the concept. For example, Gilgamesh is one of the oldest mythological stories in the world, older than the Iliad, and even the Bible. (p. 1) The first copies found date back to 2100 BCE , and are actually five different poetic works, not one full length myth. (p. 3) While the story has been added to and changed throughout the years, the basis remains the same. The story plays around a historical king who has an intimate friend with an interesting past. With this friend he battles monsters and then when all seems lost, goes on a desperate journey to find the name of a man who can help him escape death. (p 1)

 One of the most intriguing thing about mythological stories is they are written in such a way that it is easy to place yourself in the story and find out more about yourself. You are able to learn about life and death, right and wrong, along with so many other decisions and emotions. While the myth may be ancient, it is also completely relevant to current times. Everyone finds themselves chasing their own monsters, going on their own personal quest at one point or another to battle some sort of evil in their lives. The tale is also written in such a way that it invites you to immerse yourself fully in the pages, beckoning you to put yourself in the spot of Gilgamesh. The characters are all deeply rooted and have some specific reason for why they are in the piece.  

In many myths all of the fights and spars which occur between characters end up in some type of tragedy or death. In this writing, Gilgamesh meets with Enkidu and they fight—it is describes as being ‘as silly as a schoolyard fight, yet there is something beautiful about its energy’ (p. 23) This is not a fight which leads to the death of any of the characters, instead it leads to the learning to know more about each other. It is through this that they become entangled in a deep friendship. (p. 23) You get to see this friendship evolve, and begin to see how both Gilgamesh and Enkindu differ in personalities and reasoning. We begin to learn that as always there is at least one extreme, this being Enkindu (p. 39)

After reading the introduction and prologue to Gilgamesh, you begin to understand that mythology is much more than you once thought it was. There is not one large overbearing quest—rather small quests popping up along the way, all testing characters in differing ways. The prose brings you right into the story, and seems as though it is a modern day tale, not something which was written thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh seems filled with intense emotions, decisions, and consequences, which are something we all are never too old to hear about once again. 

Langston Hughes “Let America be America Again”

“Let America be America Again”  by Langston Hughes is a very deep and somewhat dark poem. In this poem Hughes voices his disgust and resentment toward the current America, and the way in which it is going. He tells of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, not targeting any single group individually, but all of the Americans who believed, and got sucked into the American Dream. With this economic difference, there seems to be no chance at equality ever being achieved. There is also no chance of equality being achieved when there is still the idea and active practice of slavery. If everyone is to be equal and have the same shot at everything, then why are some people being treated as masters, and others as slaves?

I believe this is an extremely important poem as it shows that America is not what it should be, and nothing near what it had said it would be. Hughes makes this clear from the very beginning of his poem when he states ‘America was never America to me’. America had never lived up to his dreams and hopes. Ideals of liberty, freedom and equality which America boasts of, never occurred. The people who are in charge of the government are depriving others of these ideals which they were promised.  He states in this poem multiple times that equality doesn’t exist for him. If it doesn’t exist for him, how many other thousands of people are feeling the exact same way? He believed that we all should be free in every way, which is something I completely agree with. He believes that America should be what it says it is, and if we have hope it may in fact happen. Giving this hope at the end resonates with the reader, and makes them want to do something to make America a better place, the place it should have been from the start.

In looking at whether the poem is pro-American or anti-American, I believe it is actually pro-American. While he talks about all of the things which are currently wrong, such as the disproportionate balance between equality, he believes that there is hope, and wants to work towards creating a better America. The fact that he wants to better America for the greater good of people shows to me that it is more on the pro-American side than anti-American.  He poetry speaks to the vast majority of people instead of targeting one specific group, which makes the message ring clearer. He wants the American dream to be at least somewhat attainable for every person who wants it.