English Language and Composition. [email protected] English Department Chairman. Centreville High School. Fairfax County Public Schools ...
B. Borah Centreville High School
English Language and Composition
[email protected] English Department Chairman Centreville High School Fairfax County Public Schools
B. Borah Centreville High School
Occam's razor is a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Occam (or Ockham). The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. This principle is often called the principle of parsimony. It underlies all scientific modeling and theory building. It admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one. In any given model, Occam's razor helps us to "shave off" those concepts, variables or constructs that are not really needed to explain the phenomenon. By doing that, developing the model will become much easier, and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies. Application: Students walk into an AP English classroom, language or literature, and bring with them a set of ―tools‖ which they will apply to the task at hand. Some have refined, precise tool while others have a cudgel and an adze, pity. However, they are in the class and your year will be spent refining the students‘ tool boxes. Before taking a tool out of the box, there is another step, the choice of the tool. This is the real heart of the matter. Asking the right questions aides in tool selection. Therefore, teaching the students to ask the question is the heart of the matter, and just like Occam, keep it simple and direct.
Subject/ Inherent Meaning
B. Borah Centreville High School
“The C Word in the Hallways,” Anna Quindlen The saddest phrase I‘ve read in a long time is this one: psychological autopsy. That‘s what the doctors call it when a kid kills himself and they go back over the plowed ground of his short life, and discover all the hidden markers that led to the rope, the blade, the gun. There‘s a plague on all our houses, and since it doesn‘t announce itself with lumps or spots or protest marches, it has gone unremarked in the quiet suburbs and busy cities where it has been laying waste. The number of suicides and homicides committed by teenagers, most often young men, has exploded in the last three decades, until it has become commonplace to have black-bordered photographs in yearbooks and murder suspects with acne problems. And everyone searches for reasons, and scapegoats, and solutions, most often punitive. Yet one solution continues to elude us, and that is ending the ignorance about mental health, and moving it from the margins of care and into the mainstream where it belongs. As surely as any vaccine, this would save lives. (2) So many have already been lost. This month Kip Kinkel was sentenced to life in prison in Oregon for the murders of his parents and a shooting rampage at his high school that killed two students. A psychiatrist who specializes in the care of adolescents testified that Kinkel, now 17, had been hearing voices since he was 12. Sam Manzie is also 17. He is serving a 70-year sentence for luring an 11-year-old boy named Eddie Werner into his New Jersey home and strangling him with the cord of an alarm clock because his Sega Genesis was out of reach. Manzie had his first psychological evaluation in the first grade. (3) Excuses, excuses. That‘s what so many think of the underlying pathology in such unimaginable crimes. In the 1956 movie ―The Bad Seed,‖ little Patty McCormack played what was then called a homicidal maniac, and the film censors demanded a ludicrous mock curtain call in which the child actress was taken over the knee of her screen father and spanked. There are still some representatives of the ―good spanking‖ school out there, although today the spanking may wind up being life in prison. And there‘s still plenty of that useless adult ―what in the world does a 16-year-old have to be depressed about‖ mind-set to keep depressed 16-yearolds from getting help. (4) It‘s true that both the Kinkel and the Manzie boys had already been introduced to the mentalhealth system before their crimes. Concerned by her son‘s fascination with weapons, Faith Kinkel took him for nine sessions with a psychologist in the year before the shootings. Because of his rages and his continuing relationship with a pedophile, Sam‘s parents had tried to have him admitted to a residential facility just days before their son invited Eddie in. (5) But they were threading their way through a mental-health system that is marginalized by shame, ignorance, custom, the courts, even by business practice. Kip Kinkel‘s father made no secret of his disapproval of therapy. During its course he bought his son the Glock that Kip would later use on his killing spree, which speaks sad volumes about our peculiar standards of masculinity. Sam‘s father, on the other hand, spent days trying to figure out how much of the cost of a home for troubled kids his insurance would cover. In the meantime, a psychiatrist who examined his son for less time than it takes to eat a Happy Meal concluded that he was no danger to himself or others, and a judge lectured Sam from the bench: ―you know the difference between what‘s right and wrong, don‘t you?‖ (6) The federal Center for Mental Health Services estimates that at least 6 million children in this country have some serious emotional disturbance, and for some of them, right and wrong tak es second seat to the voices in their heads. Fifty years ago their parents might have surrendered them to life in an institution, or a doctor flying blind with an ice pick might have performed a 3
B. Borah Centreville High School lobotomy, leaving them to loll away their days. Now lots of them wind up in jail. Warm fuzzies aside, consider this from a utilitarian point of view: psychological intervention is cheaper than incarceration. (7) The most optimistic estimate is that two thirds of these emotionally disturbed children are not getting any treatment. Imagine how we would respond if two thirds of America‘s babies were not being immunized. Many health-insurance plans do not provide coverage for necessary treatment, or financially penalize those who need a psychiatrist instead of an oncologist. Teachers are not trained to recognize mental illness, and some dismiss it, ―Bad Seed‖ fashion, as bad behavior. Parents are afraid, and ashamed, creating a home environment, and a national atmosphere, too, that tells teenagers their demons are a disgrace. (8) And then there are the teenagers themselves, slouching toward adulthood in a world that loves conformity. Add to the horror of creeping depression or delusions that of peer derision, the sound of the C word in the hallways: crazy, man, he‘s crazy, haven‘t you seen him, didn‘t you hear? Boys, especially, still suspect that talk therapy, or even heartfelt talk, is somehow sissified, weak. Sometimes even their own fathers think so, at least until they have to identify the body. (9) Another sad little phrase is ―If only,‖ and there are always plenty of them littering the valleys of tragedy. If only there had been long-term intervention and medication, Kip Kinkel might be out of jail, off the taxpayers‘ tab and perhaps leading a productive life. If only Sam Manzie had been treated aggressively earlier, new psychotropic drugs might have slowed or stilled his downward slide. And if only those things had happened, Faith Kinkel, William Kinkel, Mikael Nickolauson, Ben Walker and Eddie Werner might all be alive today. Mental-health care is health care, too, and mental illness is an illness, not a character flaw. Insurance providers should act like it. Hospitals and schools should act like it. Above all, we parents should act like it. Then maybe the kids will believe it. � The subject and the kinds of evidence used to develop it � The audience—their knowledge, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs � The character of the speaker or writer—in particular, how the speaker or writer might use his or her personal character in the text (Roskelly and Jolliffe 6-7). � Speaker or writer: Quindlen is a writer for the national news magazine Newsweek. She is a highly regarded essayist and novelist and is a parent. � Audience: The Newsweek audience would be made of a diverse group of educated, intellectually curious readers who read widely and presumably care about the health and well-being of adolescents. � Subject: This article was published in November 1999, about six months after the Columbine shootings. Anna Quindlen expresses her concern that mental illness is not perceived by adults as a treatable problem and therefore often goes unchecked. Her position also reflects her fear that disturbed adolescents in America, because of their untreated mental illness, threaten the security of schools. Her evidence consists of individual cases discussed in great detail, along with information about mental illness.
B. Borah Centreville High School Often writers and speakers use a type of logical reasoning called a syllogism. A syllogism has three parts: • A major premise • A minor premise • A conclusion
Often writers choose not to state their major premise(s) directly. They count on the audience to be able to see those major premises (or to unpack the argument). A syllogism in which the major premise is unstated is called an enthymeme.
Paragraph #7: ―The most optimistic estimate is that two thirds of these emotionally disturbed children are not getting any treatment. Imagine how we would respond if two thirds of America‘s babies were not being immunized.‖ • Major premise: Mental illness is as treatable as physical illness • Minor premise: Adults are responsible for the well-being of young people. • Conclusion: Therefore, adults must do all they can to help mentally ill young people seek treatment. Enthymeme: Unstated Assumption: ―Many health-insurance plans do not provide coverage for necessary treatment, or financially penalize those who need a psychiatrist instead of an oncologist.‖ What is the unstated assumption? (Hint: oncologist) _________________________________________________________________________ Locate three more enthymemes, unstated assumptions found in the article. 1.______________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________
B. Borah Centreville High School Three part Journal: Quote the article
Diction and detail
(3) Excuses, excuses. That‘s what so many think of the underlying pathology in such unimaginable crimes. Three more examples:
Write the prompt:
Inference about the persona
B. Borah Centreville High School
Application: The following passage is from a letter by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762). True knowledge consists in knowing things, not words. I would wish her no further a linguist than to enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted, and always injured, by translations. Two hours‘ application every morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine and she will have leisure enough besides to run over the English poetry, which is a more important part of a woman‘s education than it is generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined by a fine copy of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had known it had been stolen from Mr. Waller. I remember, when I was a girl, I saved one of my companions from destruction, who communicated to me an epistle she was quite charmed with. As she had a natural good taste, she observed the lines were not so smooth as Prior‘s or Pope‘s, but had more thought and spirit than any of theirs. She was wonderfully delighted with such a demonstration of her lover‘s sense and passion, and not a little pleased with her own charms, that had force enough to inspire such elegancies. In the midst of this triumph I showed her that they were taken from Randolph‘s poems, and the unfortunate transcriber was dismissed with the scorn he deserved. To say truth, the poor plagiary was very unlucky to fall into my hands; that author being no longer in fashion, would have escaped any one of less universal reading than myself. You should encourage your daughter to talk over with you what she reads; and, as you are very capable of distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young people, and have a train of ill consequences. The second caution to be given her (and which is most absolutely necessary) is to conceal whatever learning the stains with solicitude…; the parade of it can only serve to draw on her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred, of all he and she fools, which will certainly be at least three parts in four of all her acquaintance. The us of knowledge in our sex, besides the amusement of solitude, is to moderate the passions, and learn to be contented with a small expense, which are the certain effects of a studious life; and it my be preferable even to that fame which men have engrossed to themselves, and will not suffer us to share. Questions:
Write the prompt:
B. Borah Centreville High School Rittgers, Bryan. ―What The Hell Am I Supposed To Do With All These Constitutional Rights?‖ The Onion. 28 Apr 2009. Web.
Too much of one thing can cause a person a lot of stress, and you know what's stressing me out? All these rights guaranteed to me by the U.S. Constitution. There's like—how many—a couple dozen? And they keep adding more! Isn't that a bit much? I'm just a simple man who likes simple things, and I can tell you right now, there's just no way I'm ever gonna need all those constitutional rights. Did anyone even ask me if I wanted all these rights? No, they did not. And, to be honest, I'm a little chafed about it. It's hard enough keeping up with the bills in my mailbox without some huge Bill of Rights hanging over my head. People are always talking about rights, or protecting them, or trying to get me to exercise them. Enough already! God, I feel like I'm being suffocated by personal liberties. I've got rights coming out my ass. Seriously, have you looked at the Constitution lately? It's like a giant to-do list of all these annoying, super-specific rights we're all "entitled" to. And right there at the top is the right to free speech. Great, so now I got to think of something to say? Thanks but no thanks. When I want to say something, I'll let you know. I don't need a right to tell me. Take the right to bear arms. Yes, there are times when you need a gun, but most of the time you don't. So why go to all the trouble of writing it down and making everyone sign it? Just so I know how many people I'm disappointing when I don't use it? I don't even like guns, but sure enough, I've got three of them, right there in my closet. Where I've been granted the right to keep them. And another thing, there are way, way too many amendments. They've got so many, they've started protecting me from stuff I might actually like. Like quartering soldiers. Are you kidding me? I can't quarter a soldier? Who doesn't like a houseguest? I've got an extra bed, and my motto is "Mi casa es su casa." Just bring a six-pack and we'll make spaghetti. Another one that could go is the protection from search and seizure. First off, I got nothing to hide. I know I'm innocent, so you aren't going to find any evidence against me unless you plant it. Second, I don't need someone to protect my stuff. If you start messing with my property, I'll call the police. Plain and simple. Then won't you look stupid. Right to a speedy trial, right to petition, freedom of religion—on, and on, and on it goes. I'm over 40 now, so there are probably some in there I'm never even going to use. Look at me. Do I really need the right to assemble? I can barely get my ass off the couch to go out to breakfast with my friend Jerry once a week. And Lord knows Jerry isn't going to use his right to assemble anytime soon. He still lives with his mom. So there are two rights to assemble going to waste already, and I'm supposed to feel all guilty about it.
B. Borah Centreville High School It would be a lot easier just to split them up, and give some of the people some of the rights and other people other rights. That way they all get used, and nobody's left with a bunch of unused rights, looking like a total idiot. Or maybe we could just have one personal freedom per day. That way you could express your freedom of religion on Monday, and on Tuesday you could move on to your protection from self-incrimination, and so on. At least that would be manageable. Look, all I really want to do is live my life and pursue a little bit of happiness, but it's almost impossible with all these rights gumming up the works. Why not get rid of the useless ones and replace them with some new rights we can actually do something with? Like the right not to get a million text messages from your insane ex-girlfriend, or the right to a clean bathroom at the gas station, or free Netflix for everyone. Questions:
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B. Borah Centreville High School In the following two passages, Virginia Woolf describes two different meals that she was served during a university visit; the first meal was served at the men‘s college, while the second meal was served at the women‘s college.
Virginia Woolf: Two Dinners, one at a Men’s College and one at a Women’s College: I
It is a curious fact that novelists have a way of making us believe that luncheon parties are invariably memorable for something very witty that was said, or for something very wise that was done. But they seldom spare a word for what was eaten. It is part of the novelist‘s convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and salmon and ducklings wee of no importance whatsoever, as if nobody ever smoked a cigar or drank a glass of wine. Here, however, I shall take the liberty to defy that convention and to tell you that the lunch on this occasion began with soles, sunk in a deep dish, over which the college cook had spread a counterpane of the whitest cream, save that it was branded here and there with brown spots like spots on the flanks of a doe. After that came the partridges, but if this suggests a couple of bald, brown birds on a plate you are mistaken. The partridges, many and various, came with all their retinue of sauces and salads, the sharp and the sweet, each in its order; their potatoes, thin as coins but not so hard; their sprouts, foliated as rosebuds but more succulent. And no sooner had the roast and its retinue been done with than the silent serving-man, and the Beadle himself perhaps in a milder manifestation, set before us, wreathed in napkins, a confection which rose all sugar from the waves. To call it pudding and so relate it to rice and tapioca would be an insult. Meanwhile the wineglasses had flushed yellow and flushed crimson; had been emptied; had been filled. And thus by degrees was lit, halfway down the spine, which is the seat of the soul, not that hard little electric light which we call brilliance, as it pops in and out upon our lips, but the more profound, ,subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse. No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself. We are all going to heaven…in other words, how good life seemed, how sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance, how admirable friendship and the society of one‘s kind, as, lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in the window-seat. 10
B. Borah Centreville High School
Here was my soup. Dinner was being served in the great dining-hall. Far from being spring it was in fact an evening in October. Everybody was assembled in the big diningroom. Dinner was ready. Here was the soup. It was a plain gravy soup. There was nothing to stir the fancy in that. One could have seen through the transparent liquid any pattern that there might have been on the plate itself. But there was no pattern. The plate was plain. Next came beef with its attendant greens and potatoes—a homely trinity, suggesting the rumps of cattle in a muddy market, and sprouts curled and yellowed at the edge, and bargaining and cheapening, and women with string bags on Monday morning. There was no reason to complain of human nature‘s daily food, seeing that the supply was sufficient and coal-miners doubtless were sitting down less. Prunes and custard followed. And if any one complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they are not), stringy as a miser‘s heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in misers‘ veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune. Biscuits and cheese came next, and here the water-jug was liberally passed round, for it is the nature of biscuits to be dry, and these were biscuits to the core. That was all. The meal was over. Everybody scraped their chairs back; the swing-doors swung violently to and fro; soon the hall was emptied of every sign of food and made ready no doubt for breakfast next morning. Questions:
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B. Borah Centreville High School Carefully read the following letter from Charles Lamb to the English romantic poet William Wordsworth. January 30, 1801 I ought before this to have reply‘d to your very kind invitation into Cumberland. With you and your Sister I could gang anywhere. But I am afraid whether I shall ever be able to afford so desperate a Journey. Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don‘t much care if I never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments, as any of your Mountaineers can have done with dead nature. The Lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street, the innumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, wagons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden, the very women of the Town, the Watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles; --life awake, if you awake at all hours of the night, the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt & mud, the Sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old Book stalls, parsons cheap‘ning books, coffee houses, steams of soup from kitchens, the pantomimes, London itself is a pantomime and a masquerade, all these things work themselves into my mind and feed me without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impels me into night walks about the crowded streets, and I often shed tears in the motley Strand from fullness of joy at so much Life. –All these emotions must be strange to you. So are your rural emotions to me. But consider, what must I have been doing all my life, not to have lent great portions of my heart with usury to such scenes?— My attachments are all local, purely local –. I have no passion (or have had none since I was in love, and then it was the spurious engendering of poetry &books) to groves and valleys. – The rooms where I was born, the furniture which has been before my eyes all my life, a book case which has followed me about (like a faithful dog, only exceeding him in knowledge) wherever I have moved, old tables, streets, squares, when I have sunned myself, my old school,—these are my mistresses. Have I not enough, without your mountains? I do not envy you, I should pity you, did I not know, that the Mind will make friends of any thing. Your sun & moon and skies and hills & lakes affect me no more, or scarcely come to me in more venerable characters, than as a gilded room with tapestry and tapers, where I might live with handsome visible objects.— Questions:
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B. Borah Centreville High School Read carefully the following passage from Meena Alexander‘s autobiography, Fault Lines (1993). The plate glass window that protected me inside the place of delicate teas and sharply flavored asparagus, tuna fish sandwiches with the heaping of scallions and mint, glinted back oddly in my face. I caught my two eyes crooked, face disfigured. What would it mean for one such as I to pick up a mirror and try to see her face in it? Night after night, I asked myself the question. What might it mean to look at my self straight, see myself? How many different gazes would that need? And what to do with the crookedness of flesh, thrown back at the eyes? The more I thought about it, the less sense any of it seemed to make. My voice splintered in my ears into a cacophony: whispering cadences, shouts, moans, the quick delight of bodily pleasure, all rising up as if the condition of being fractured had freed the selves jammed into my skin, multiple beings locked into the journeys of one body. And what of all the cities and small towns and villages I have lived in since birth: /Allahabad, Tiruvella, Kozencheri, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, all within the boundaries of India; Khartoum in the Sudan; Nottingham in Britain; and now this island of Manhattan? How should I spell out these fragments of a broken geography? And what of all the languages compacted in my brain: Malayalam, my mother tongue, the language of first speck; Hindi which I learnt as a child; Arabic from my years in the Sudan— odd shards survive; French; English? How would I map all this in a book of days? After all, my life did not fall into the narratives I had been taught to honor, tales that closed back on themselves, as a snake might, swallowing its own ending: birth, an appropriate education—not too much, not too little—an arranged marriage to a man of suitable birth and background, somewhere within the boundaries of India. Sometimes in my fantasies, the kind that hit you in broad daylight, riding the subway, I have imagined being a dutiful wife, my life perfect as a bud opening in the cool monsoon winds, then blossoming on its stalk on the gulmohar tree, petals dark red, falling onto the rich soil outside my mother‘s house in Tiruvella. In the inner life coiled within me, I have sometimes longed to be a bud on a tree, blooming in due season, the tree trunk well rooted in a sweet perpetual place. But everything I think of is filled with ghosts, even this longing. This imagined past—what never was—is a choke hold. I sit here writing, for I know that time does not come fluid and whole into my trembling hands. All that is here comes piecemeal, though sometimes the joints have fallen into place miraculously, as if the heavens had opened and mango trees fruited in the rough asphalt of upper Broadway. But questions persist: Where did I come from? How did I become what I am? How shall I start to write myself, configure my ―I‖ as Other, image this life I lead, here, now, in America? What could I ever be but a mass of faults, a fault mass? I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. It went like this: Fault: Deficiency, lack, want of something…Default, failing, neglect. A defect, imperfection, blamable quality or feature: a. in moral character, b. in physical or intellectual constitution, appearance, structure or workmanship. From geology or mining: a dislocation or break in the strata or vein. Examples: ―Every coal field is…split asunder, and broken into tiny fragments by faults.‖ (Anstead, Ancient World, 13
B. Borah Centreville High School 1847) ―There are several kinds of fault e.g., faults of Dislocation; of Denudation; of Upheaval; etc.‖ (Greasley, Glossary of Terms in Coal Mining, 1883) ―Fragments of the adjoining rocks mashed and jumbled together, in some cases bound into a solid mass called fault-stuff or fault-rock.‖ (Green, Physical Geography, 1877) That‘s it, I thought. That‘s all I am, a woman cracked by multiple migrations. Uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing. Her words are all askew. And so I tormented myself on summer nights, and in the chill wind of autumn, tossing back and forth, worrying myself sick. Till my mind slipped back to my mother—amma-she who gave birth to me, and to amma‘s amma, my veliammechi, grandmother Kunju, drawing me back into the darkness of the Tiruvella house with its cool bedrooms and coiled verandas: the shelter of memory. Questions:
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B. Borah Centreville High School
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. If one believes Homer, Sisyphus was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the gods. He stole their secrets. Aegina, the daughter of Esopus, was carried off by Jupiter. The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Sisyphus. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition that Esopus would give water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror. You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earthclotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward the lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock. If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and the sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of 15
B. Borah Centreville High School earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy arises in man's heart: this is the rock's victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
B. Borah Centreville High School Learning to Read MALCOLM X Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, Malcolm X was one of the most articulate and powerful leaders of black America during the 1960s. A street hustler convicted of robbery in 1946, he spent seven years in prison, where he educated himself and became a disciple of Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam. In the days of the civil rights movement, Malcolm X emerged as the leading spokesman for black separatism, a philosophy that urged black Americans to cut political, social, and economic ties with the white community. After a pilgrimage to Mecca, the capital of the Muslim world, in 1964, he became an orthodox Muslim, adopted the Muslim name El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and distanced himself from the teachings of the black Muslims. He was assassinated in 1965. In the following excerpt from his autobiography (1965), coauthored with Alex Haley and published the year of his death, Malcolm X describes his self-education. It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education. I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler, out there I had commanded attention when I said something. But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn't articulate, I wasn't even functional. How would I sound writing in slang, the way I would say it, something such as, "Look, daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad-" Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies. It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge. Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversations he was in, and I had tried to emulate him. But every book I picked up had few sentences which didn't contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese. When I just skipped those words, of course, I really ended up with little idea of what the book said. So I had come to the Norfolk Prison Colony still going through only book-reading motions. Pretty soon, I would have quit even these motions, unless I had received the motivation that I did. I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary - to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn't even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony School. I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary's pages. I'd never realized so many words existed! I didn't know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying. In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks. I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting. I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words - immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn't remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that "aardvark" springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tailed, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites 17
B. Borah Centreville High School caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants. I was so fascinated that I went on - I copied the dictionary's next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionary's A section had filled a whole tablet-and I went on into the B's. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words. I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn't have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors, and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life. The Norfolk Prison Colony's library was in the school building. A variety of classes was taught there by instructors who came from such places as Harvard and Boston universities. The weekly debates between inmate teams were also held in the school building. You would be astonished to know how worked up convict debaters and audiences would get over subjects like "Should Babies Be Fed Milk?" Available on the prison library's shelves were books on just about every general subject. Much of the big private collection that Parkhurst 1 had willed to the prison was still in crates and boxes in the back of the library thousands of old books. Some of them looked ancient: covers faded, old-time parchment-looking binding. Parkhurst seemed to have been principally interested in history and religion. He had the money and the special interest to have a lot of books that you wouldn't have in a general circulation. Any college library would have been lucky to get that collection. As you can imagine, especially in a prison where there was heavy emphasis on rehabilitation, an inmate was smiled upon if he demonstrated an unusually intense interest in books. There were a sizable number of well-read inmates, especially the popular debaters. Some were said by many to be practically walking encyclopedias. They were almost celebrities. No university would ask any student to devour literature as I did when this new world opened to me, of being able to read and understand. I read more in my room than in the library itself. An inmate who was known to read a lot could check out more than the permitted maximum number of books. I preferred reading in the total isolation of my own room. When I had progressed to really serious reading, every night at about ten P.M, I would be outraged with the "lights out." It always seemed to catch me right in the middle of something engrossing. Fortunately, right outside my door was a corridor light that cast a glow into my room. The glow was enough to read by, once my eyes adjusted to it. So when "lights out" came, I would sit on the floor where I could continue reading in that glow. At one-hour intervals at night guards paced past every room. Each time I heard the approaching footsteps; I jumped into bed and feigned sleep. And as soon as the guard passed, I got back out of bed onto the floor area of that light-glow, where I would read for another fiftyeight minutes until the guard approached again. That went on until three or four every morning. Three or four hours of sleep a night was enough for me. Often in the years in the streets I had slept less than that. The teachings of Mr. Muhammad stressed how history had been "whitened" - when white 1
Charles H. Parkhurst (1842-1933); American clergyman, reformer, and president of the Society for the Prevention of Crime.
B. Borah Centreville High School men had written history books, the black man simply had been left out. Mr. Muhammad couldn't have said anything that would have struck me much harder. I had never forgotten how when my class, me and all of those whites, had studied seventh-grade United States history back in Mason, the history of the Negro had been covered in one paragraph, and the teacher had gotten a big laugh with his joke, "Negroes' feet are so big that when they walk, they leave a hole in the ground." This is one reason why Mr. Muhammad's teachings spread so swiftly all over the United States, among all Negroes, whether or not they became followers of Mr. Muhammad. The teachings ring true-to every Negro. You can hardly show me a black adult in America - or a white one, for that matter - who knows from the history books anything like the truth about the black man's role. In my own case, once I heard of the "glorious history of the black man," I took special pains to hunt in the library for books that would inform me on details about black history. I can remember accurately the very first set of books that really impressed me. I have since bought that set of books and I have it at home for my children to read as they grow up. It's called Wonders of the World. It's full of pictures of archeological finds, statues that depict, usually, nonEuropean people. I found books like Will Durant's Story of Civilization. I read H. G. Wells' Outline of History. Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois gave me a glimpse into the black people's history before they came to this country. Carter G. Woodson's Negro History opened my eyes about black empires before the black slave was brought to the United States, and the early Negro struggles for freedom. J. A. Rogers‘ three volumes of Sex and Race told about race-mixing before Christ's time; and Aesop being a black man who told fables; about Egypt's Pharaohs; about the great Coptic Christian Empire2; about Ethiopia, the earth's oldest continuous black civilization, as China is the oldest continuous civilization. Mr. Muhammad's teaching about how the white man had been created led me to Findings in Genetics, by Gregor Mendel. (The dictionary's G section was where I had learned what "genetics" meant.) I really studied this book by the Austrian monk. Reading it over and over, especially certain sections, helped me to understand that if you started with a black man, a white man could be produced; but starting with a white man, you never could produce a black man because the white chromosome is recessive. And since no one disputes that there was but one Original Man, the conclusion is clear. During the last year or so, in the New York Times, Arnold Toynbeell used the word "bleached" in describing the white man. His words were: ―White (i.e., bleached) human beings of North European origin…" Toynbee also referred to the European geographic area as only a peninsula of Asia. He said there was no such thing as Europe. And if you look at the globe, you will see for yourself that America is only an extension of Asia. (But at the same time Toynbee is among those who have helped to bleach history. He has written that Africa was the only continent that produced no history. He won't write that again. Every day now, the truth is coming to light.) I never will forget how shocked I was when I began reading about slavery's total horror. It made such an impact upon me that it later became one of my favorite subjects when I became a minister of Mr. Muhammad's. The world's most monstrous crime, the sin and the blood on the white man's hands, are almost impossible to believe. Books like the one by Frederick Olmsted opened my eyes to the horrors suffered when the slave was landed in the United States. The European woman, Fanny Kemble, who had married a Southern white slaveowner, described how human beings were degraded. Of course I read Uncle Tom's Cabin. In fact, I believe that's the only novel I have ever read since I started serious reading. Parkhurst's collection also contained some bound pamphlets of the Abolitionist Anti-Slavery Society of New England. I read descriptions of atrocities, saw those illustrations of black slave women tied up and flogged with whips; of black mothers watching their babies being dragged 2
A native Egyptian Christian church that retains elements of its African origins.
B. Borah Centreville High School off, never to be seen by their mothers again; of dogs after slaves, and of the fugitive slave catchers, evil white men with whips and clubs and chains and guns. I read about the slave preacher Nat Turner, who put the fear of God into the white slave master. Nat Turner wasn't going around preaching pie-in-the-sky and "non-violent" freedom for the black man. There in Virginia one night in 1831, Nat and seven other slaves started out at his master's home and through the night they went from one plantation "big house" to the next, killing, until by the next morning 57 white people were dead and Nat had about 70 slaves following him. White people, terrified for their lives, fled from their homes, locked themselves up in public buildings, hid in the woods, and some even left the state. A small army of soldiers took two months to catch and hang Nat Turner. Somewhere I have read where Nat Turner's example is said to have inspired John Brown to invade Virginia and attack Harpers Ferry nearly thirty years later, with thirteen white men and five Negroes. I read Herodotus, "the father of History," or, rather, I read about him. And I read the histories of various nations, which opened my eyes gradually, then wider and wider, to how the whole world's white men had indeed acted like devils, pillaging and raping and bleeding and draining the whole world's non-white people. I remember, for instance, books such as Will Durant's The Story of Oriental Civilization, and Mahatma Gandhi's accounts of the struggle to drive the British out of India. Book after book showed me how the white man had brought upon the world's black, brown, red, and yellow peoples every variety of the suffering of exploitation. I saw how since the sixteenth century, the so-called "Christian trader" white man began to ply the seas in his lust for Asian and African empires, and plunder, and power. I read, I saw, how the white man never has gone among the non-white peoples bearing the Cross in the true manner and spirit of Christ's teachings - meek, humble, and Christ like. I perceived, as I read, how the collective white man had been actually nothing but a piratical opportunist who used Faustian machinations 3 to make his own Christianity his initial wedge in criminal conquests. First, always "religiously," he branded "heathen" and "pagan" labels upon ancient non-white cultures and civilizations. The stage thus set, he then turned upon his nonwhite victims his weapons of war. I read how, entering India - half a billion deeply religious brown people - the British white man, by 1759, through promises, trickery, and manipulations, controlled much of India through Great Britain's East India Company. The parasitical British administration kept tentacling out to half of the sub-continent. In 1857, some of the desperate people of India finally mutinied - and, excepting the African slave trade, nowhere has history recorded any more unnecessary bestial and ruthless human carnage than the British suppression of the non-white Indian people. Over 115 million African blacks - close to the 1930's population of the United States-were murdered or enslaved during the slave trade. And I read how when the slave market was glutted, the cannibalistic white powers of Europe next carved up, as their colonies, the richest areas of the black continent. And Europe's chancelleries for the next century played a chess game of naked exploitation and power from Cape Horn to Cairo. Ten guards and the warden couldn't have torn me out of those books. Not even Elijah Muhammad could have been more eloquent than those books were in providing indisputable proof that the collective white man had acted like a devil in virtually every contact he had with the world's collective non-white man. I listen today to the radio, and watch television, and read the headlines about the collective white man's fear and tension concerning China. When the white man professes ignorance about why the Chinese hate him so, my mind can't help flashing back to what I read, there in prison, about how the blood forebears of this same white man raped China at a time when China was trusting and helpless. Those original white "Christian traders" sent into China millions of pounds of opium. By 1839, so many of the Chinese were addicts that
Evil plots or schemes. Faust was a fictional character who sold his soul to the devil for knowledge and power.
B. Borah Centreville High School China's desperate government destroyed twenty thousand chests of opium. The first Opium war 4 was promptly declared by the white man. Imagine! Declaring war upon someone who objects to being narcotized! The Chinese were severely beaten, with Chinese-invented gunpowder. The Treaty of Nanking made China pay the British white man for the destroyed opium; forced open China's major ports to British trade; forced China to abandon Hong Kong; fixed China's import tariffs so low that cheap British articles soon flooded in, maiming China's industrial development. After a second Opium War, the Tientsin Treaties legalized the ravaging opium trade, legalized a British-French-American control of China's customs. China tried delaying that Treaty's ratification; Peking was looted and burned. "Kill the foreign white devils!" was the 1901 Chinese war cry in the Boxer Rebellion 5. Losing again, this time the Chinese were driven from Peking's choicest areas. The vicious, arrogant white man put up the famous signs, "Chinese and dogs not allowed." Red China after World War II closed its doors to the Western white world. Massive Chinese agricultural, scientific, and industrial efforts are described in a book that Life magazine recently published. Some observers inside Red China have reported that the world never has known such a hate-white campaign as is now going on in this non-white country where, present birth-rates continuing, in fifty more years Chinese will be half the earth's population. And it seems that some Chinese chickens will soon come home to roost, with China's recent successful nuclear tests. Let us face reality. We can see in the United Nations a new world order being shaped, along color lines - an alliance among the non-white nations. America's U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson complained not long ago that in the United Nations "a skin game" was being played. He was right. He was facing reality. A "skin game" is being played. But Ambassador Stevenson sounded like Jesse James accusing the marshal of carrying a gun. Because who in the world's history ever has played a worse "skin game" than the white man? Mr. Muhammad, to whom I was writing daily, had no idea of what a new world had opened up to me through my efforts to document his teachings in books. When I discovered philosophy, I tried to touch all the landmarks of philosophical development. Gradually, I read most of the old philosophers, Occidental and Oriental. The Oriental philosophers were the ones I came to prefer; finally, my impression was that most Occidental philosophy had largely been borrowed from the Oriental thinkers. Socrates, for instance, traveled in Egypt. Some sources even say that Socrates was initiated into some of the Egyptian mysteries. Obviously Socrates got some of his wisdom among the East's wise men. I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. I certainly wasn't seeking any degree, the way a college confers a status symbol upon its students. My homemade education gave me, with every additional book that I read, a little bit more sensitivity to the deafness, dumbness, and blindness that was afflicting the black race in America. Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me from London, asking questions. One was, "What's your alma mater?" I told him, "Books." You will never catch me with a free fifteen minutes in which I'm not studying something I feel might be able to help the black man. Yesterday I spoke in London, and both ways on the plane across the Atlantic I was studying a document about how the United Nations proposes to insure the human rights of the oppressed minorities of the world. The American black man is the world's most shameful case of minority oppression. What makes the black man think of himself as only an internal United States issue is just a catch-phrase, two words, "civil rights." How is the black man going to get "civil rights" 4
The ―Opium War‖ of 1839-1842 was between Britain and China and ended when Hong Kong was handed over to Britain. 5 The Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900. An uprising by members of a secret Chinese society who opposed foreign influence in Chinese affairs.
B. Borah Centreville High School before first he wins his human rights? If the American black man will start thinking about his human rights, and then start thinking of himself as part of one of the world's great peoples, he will see he has a case for the United Nations. I can't think of a better case! Four hundred years of black blood and sweat invested here in America, and the white man still has the black man begging for what every immigrant fresh off the ship can take for granted the minute he walks down the gangplank. But I'm digressing. I told the Englishman that my alma mater was books, a good library. Every time I catch a plane, I have with me a book that I want to read-and that's a lot of books these days. If I were not out here every day battling the white man, I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity - because you can hardly mention anything I'm not curious about. I don't think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did. In fact, prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college. I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that. Where else but in a prison could I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensely sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day?
B. Borah Centreville High School
Pete Hamill ―Crack and the Box‖
One sad rainy morning last winter, I talked to a woman who was addicted to crack cocaine. She was twenty-two, stiletto-thin, with eyes as old as tombs. She was living in two rooms in a welfare hotel with her children, who were two, three, and five years of age. Her story was the usual tangle of human woe: early pregnancy, dropping out of school, vanished men, smack and then crack, tricks with johns in parked cars to pay for the dope. I asked her why she did drugs. She shrugged in an empty way and couldn't really answer beyond "makes me feel good." While we talked and she told her tale of squalor, the children ignored us. They were watching television. Walking back to my office in the rain, I brooded about the woman, her zombielike children, and my own callous indifference. I'd heard so many versions of the same story that I almost never wrote them anymore; the sons of similar women, glimpsed a dozen years ago, are now in Dannemora or Soledad or Joliet; in a hundred cities, their daughters are moving into the same loveless rooms. As I walked, a series of homeless men approached me for change, most of them junkies. Others sat in doorways, staring at nothing. They were additional casualties of our time of plague, demoralized reminders that although this country holds only 2 percent of the world's population, it consumes 65 percent of the world's supply of hard drugs. Why, for God's sake? Why do so many millions of Americans of all ages, races, and classes choose to spend all or part of their lives stupefied? I've talked to hundreds of addicts over the years; some were my friends. But none could give sensible answers. They stutter about the pain of the world, about despair or boredom, the urgent need for magic or pleasure in a society empty of both. But then they just shrug. Americans have the money to buy drugs; the supply is plentiful. But almost nobody in power asks, Why? Least of all, George Bush and his drug warriors. William Bennett talks vaguely about the heritage of sixties permissiveness, the collapse of Traditional Values, and all that. But he and Bush offer the traditional American excuse: It Is Somebody Else's Fault. This posture set the stage for the self-righteous invasion of Panama, the bloodiest drug arrest in world history. Bush even accused Manuel Noriega of "poisoning our children." But he never asked why so many Americans demand the poison. And then, on that rainy morning in New York, I saw another one of those ragged men staring out at the rain from a doorway. I suddenly remembered the inert postures of the children in that welfare hotel, and I thought: television. Ah, no, I muttered to myself: too simple. Something as complicated as drug addiction can't be blamed on television. Come on.... but I remembered all those desperate places I'd visited as a reporter, where there were no books and a TV set was always playing and the older kids had gone off somewhere to shoot smack, except for the kid who was at the mortuary in a 23
B. Borah Centreville High School coffin. I also remembered when I was a boy in the forties and early fifties, and drugs were a minor sideshow, a kind of dark little rumor. And there was one major difference between that time and this: television. We had unemployment then; illiteracy, poor living conditions, racism, governmental stupidity, a gap between rich and poor. We didn't have the all-consuming presence of television in our lives. Now two generations of Americans have grown up with television from their earliest moments of consciousness. Those same American generations are afflicted by the pox of drug addiction. Only thirty-five years ago, drug addiction was not a major problem in this country. There were drug addicts. We had some at the end of the nineteenth century, hooked on the cocaine in patent medicines. During the placid fifties, Commissioner Harry Anslinger pumped up the butt of the old Bureau of Narcotics with fantasies of reefer madness. Heroin was sold and used in most major American cities, while the bebop generation of jazz musicians got jammed up with horse. But until the early sixties, narcotics were still marginal to American life; they weren't the $120-billion market they make up today. If anything, those years have an eerie innocence. In 1955 there were 31,700,000 TV sets in use in the country (the number is now past 184 million). But the majority of the audience had grown up without the dazzling new medium. They embraced it, were diverted by it, perhaps even loved it, but they weren't formed by it. That year, the New York police made a mere 1,234 felony drug arrests; in 1988 it was 43,901. They confiscated ninety-seven ounces of cocaine for the entire year; last year it was hundreds of pounds. During each year of the fifties in New York, there were only about a hundred narcotics-related deaths. But by the end of the sixties, when the first generation of children formed by television had come to maturity (and thus to the marketplace), the number of such deaths had risen to 1,200. The same phenomenon was true in every major American city. In the last Nielsen survey of American viewers, the average family was watching television seven hours a day. This has never happened before in history. No people has ever been entertained for seven hours a day. The Elizabethans didn't go to the theater seven hours a day. The pre-TV generation did not go to the movies seven hours a day. Common sense tells us that this all-pervasive diet of instant imagery, sustained now for forty years, must have changed us in profound ways. Television, like drugs, dominates the lives of its addicts. And though some lonely Americans leave their sets on without watching them, using them as electronic companions, television usually absorbs its viewers the way drugs absorb their users. Viewers can't work or play while watching television; they can't read; they can't be out on the streets, falling in love with the wrong people, learning how to quarrel and compromise with other human beings. In short they are asocial. So are drug addicts. One Michigan State University study in the early eighties offered a group of four- and fiveyear-olds the choice of giving up television or giving up their fathers. Fully one third said 24
B. Borah Centreville High School they would give up Daddy. Given the choice (between cocaine or heroin and father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, children, job), almost every stoned junkie would do the same. There are other disturbing similarities. Television itself is a consciousness-altering instrument. With the touch of a button, it takes you out of the "real" world in which you reside and can place you at a basketball game, the back alleys of Miami, the streets of Bucharest, or the cartoony living rooms of Sitcom Land. Each move from channel to channel alters mood, usually with music or a laugh track. On any given evening, you can laugh, be frightened, feel tension, thump with excitement. You can even tune in MacNeilI/Lehrer and feel sober. But none of these abrupt shifts in mood is earned. They are attained as easily as popping a pill. Getting news from television, for example, is simply not the same experience as reading it in a newspaper. Reading is active. The reader must decode little symbols called words, then create ideas and make them connect; at its most basic level, reading 'images or an act of the imagination. But the television viewer doesn't go through that process. The words are spoken to him by Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings. There isn't much decoding to do when watching television, no time to think or ponder before the next set of images and spoken words appears to displace the present one. The reader, being active, works at his or her own pace; the viewer, being passive, proceeds at a pace determined by the show. Except at the highest levels, television never demands that its audience take part in an act of imagination. Reading always does. In short, television works on the same imaginative and intellectual level as psychoactive drugs. If prolonged television viewing makes the young passive (dozens of studies indicate that it does), then moving to drugs has a certain coherence. Drugs provide an unearned high (in contrast to the earned rush that comes from a feat accomplished, a human breakthrough earned by sweat or thought or love). And because the television addict and the drug addict are alienated from the hard and scary world, they also feel they make no difference in its complicated events. For the junkie, the world is reduced to him and the needle, pipe, or vial; the self is absolutely isolated, with no desire for choice. The television addict lives the same way. Many Americans who fail to vote in presidential elections must believe they have no more control over such a choice than they do over the casting of L.A. Law. The drug plague also coincides with the unspoken assumption of most television shows: Life should be easy. The most complicated events are summarized on TV news in a minute or less. Cops confront murder, chase the criminals, and bring them to justice (usually violently) within an hour. In commercials, you drink the right beer and you get the girl. Easy! So why should real life be a grind? Why should any American have to spend years mastering a skill or a craft, or work eight hours a day at an unpleasant job, or endure the compromises and crises of a marriage? Nobody works on television (except cops, doctors, and lawyers). Love stories on television are about falling in love or breaking up; the long, steady growth of a marriage - its essential dailiness - is seldom explored, except as comedy. Life on television is almost always simple: good guys and bad, nice girls and whores, smart 25
B. Borah Centreville High School guys and dumb. And if life in the real world isn't that simple, well, hey, man, have some dope, man, be happy, feel good. The doper always whines about how he feels; drugs are used to enhance his feelings or obliterate them, and in this the doper is very American. No other people on earth spend so much time talking about their feelings; hundreds of thousands go to shrinks, they buy selfhelp books by the millions, they pour out intimate confessions to virtual strangers in bars or discos. Our political campaigns are about emotional issues now, stated in the simplicities of adolescence. Even alleged statesmen can start a sentence, "I feel that the Sandinistas should . . ." when they once might have said, "I think . . ." I'm convinced that this exaltation of cheap emotions over logic and reason is one by-product of hundreds of thousands of hours of television. Most Americans under the age of fifty have now spent their lives absorbing television; that is, they've had the structures of drama pounded into them. Drama is always about conflict. So news shows, politics, and advertising are now all shaped by those structures. Nobody will pay attention to anything as complicated as the part played by Third World I debt in the expanding production of cocaine; it's much easier to focus on Manuel Noriega, a character right out of Miami Vice, and believe that even in real life there's a Mister Big. What is to be done? Television is certainly not going away, but its addictive qualities can be controlled. It's a lot easier to "just say no" to television than to heroin or crack. As a beginning, parents must take immediate control of the sets, teaching children to watch specific television programs, not "television," to get out of the house and play with other kids. Elementary and high schools must begin teaching television as a subject, the way literature is taught, showing children how shows are made, how to distinguish between the true and the false, how to recognize cheap emotional manipulation. All Americans should spend more time reading. And thinking. For years, the defenders of television have argued that the networks are only giving the people what they want. That might be true. But so is the Medellin cartel.
B. Borah Centreville High School
2008 Question 2 In the following passage from The Great Influenza, an account of the 1948 flu epidemic, author John M. Barry writes about scientists and their research. Read the passage carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how Barry uses rhetorical strategies to characterize scientific research. Certainty creates strength. Certainty gives one something upon which to lean. Uncertainty creates weakness. Uncertainty makes one tentative if not fearful, and tentative steps, even when in the right direction, may not overcome significant obstacles. To be a scientist requires not only intelligence and curiosity, but passion, patience, creativity, self-sufficiency, and courage. It is not the courage to venture into the unknown. It is the courage to accept—indeed, embrace—uncertainty. For as Claude Bernard, the great French physiologist of the nineteenth century, said, ―Science teaches us to doubt.‖ A scientist must accept the fact that all his or her work, even beliefs, may break apart upon the sharp edge of a single laboratory finding. And just as Einstein refused to accept his own theory until his predictions were tested, one must seek out such findings. Ultimately a scientist has nothing to believe in but the process of inquiry. To move forcefully and aggressively even while uncertain requires a confidence and strength deeper than physical courage. All real scientists exist on the frontier. Even the least ambitious among them deal with the unknown, if only one step beyond the known. The best among them move deep into a wilderness region where they know almost nothing, where the very tools and techniques needed to clear the wilderness, to bring order to it, do not exist. There they probe in a disciplined way. There a single step can take them through the looking glass into a world that seems entirely different, and if they are at least partly correct their probing acts like a crystal to precipitate an order out of chaos, to create form, structure, and direction. A single step can also take one off a cliff. In the wilderness the scientist must create…everything. It is grunt work, tedious work that begins with figuring out what tools one needs and then making them. A shovel can dig up dirt but cannot penetrate rock. Would a pick be best, or would dynamite be better—or would dynamite be too indiscriminately destructive? If the rock is impenetrable, if dynamite would destroy what one is looking for, is there another way of getting information about what the rock holds? There is a stream passing over the rock. Would analyzing the water after it passes over the rock reveal anything useful? How would one analyze it? Ultimately, if the researcher succeeds, a flood of colleagues will pave roads over the path laid, and those roads will be orderly and straight, taking an investigator in minutes to a place the pioneer spent months or years looking for. And the perfect tool will be available for purchase, just as laboratory mice can now be ordered from supply houses. Not all scientific investigators can deal comfortably with uncertainty, and those who can may not be creative enough to understand and design the experiments that will illuminate a subject—to know both where and how to look. Others may lack the confidence to persist. Experiments do not simply work. Regardless of design and preparation, experiments—especially at the beginning, when one proceeds by intelligent guesswork—rarely yield the results desired. An investigator must make them work. The less known, the more one has to manipulate and even force experiments to yield an answer. 27
B. Borah Centreville High School
The C Word in the HallwaysMitch Coombs
Anna Quindlen in the article, "The C Word in the Hallways" (1999), explains that teenage murder is horrible but it can be prevented. Quindlen supports her claim by giving in-depth details and specific statistics. The author's purpose is to inform people about this problem so that more parents would be aware with what goes on at their child's school. The author writes in a serious tone for her readers. I agree with Quindlen when she describes how teenage killers are victims of inadequate mental health care.
Some people say that inadequate mental health care is the main reason for teenage killing. Quindlen supports this when she says "Kip Kinkel, now 17, ...
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really don't focus on what goes on inside their child's head. Nobody can really tell if someone wants to kill somebody just by staring at them. Parents need to pay more attention to their child and how they act.
Anna Quindlen in the article, "The C Word in the Hallways" describes how teenage killers are victims of inadequate mental health care. She uses in-depth examples and exact statistics to support her ...
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