Saturday, 26 May 2012

Pulling Hair In Despair

Well it's been really quite toasty over here for these last few days.

In a way it makes this sudden frenzy of Latin and Physics revision all the worse: studying at home has never really been a viable course of action (a myriad distractions to be encountered), studying in the inexplicably stifling atmosphere of the library has become oppressive and study outside is now a physical impossibility, unless a person wishes to have their work alternately blown away and trampled over.
Whilst the wet weather has been subdued, the same cannot entirely be said for the wind.

But I just enjoying complaining. Truth be told an unexpected materialization of the sun is nearly always welcome and the main cause behind my mini-rant is that it is likely to vanish again the moment my exams are done (Tuesday, for your information).

And before anyone begins to worry, yes, I am still beavering away ('to beaver'; lovely verb) at the work for the impending exams- the sudden post does not mean a cessation in study but rather is being written as means of a break and an outlet for pent up anxiety (my fingertips are fairly flying over the keyboard. Spellcheck shall have it's work cut out.).

Talking of breaks, there is going to be quite a reasonable one between R.M.P.S finishing on Tues and the end of study leave. I fancy I shall be passed out for most of the time, but if anyone has any interesting plans I am open to suggestions. Hopefully it won't always be quite this sunny, or I'll be a tad screwed for running. Gave it a go a couple of days back and managed maybe twenty minutes... after which I promptly collapsed in a sweaty heap for a couple of hours before I could be peeled off the bed. Though willing to make an effort, I'm far from suicidal.

Anyway, back to work. Pray for me.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Odd Things Found

Strolling around The (Edin)Burgher.

They forgot to tell him you don't eat the skin.

Upstanding citizen turned highwayman. Hmmm....

Poor chap. People were being singularly unhelpful- he's probably still there.

Inspect this seemingly ordinary scene. Please pay particular notice to the windows.

Now inspect closer. Way to relax. Spotted courtesy of P&S. The raised window is looking painfully precarious.

And finally, the Oddest Thing of all. Witness papa's expression.
Copy away, people. He's not going to thank me when this goes viral. 
*evil gleeful grin*


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Multicoloured Gatsby

Right, seeing as it's exam leave, and technically I'm meant to be doing a spot of revision, I thought I'd kill a couple of birds with the same keyboard and type up my English revision notes for Gatsby.

Obviously a bit different from the stuff I usually find myself writing, but I found that when I was revising for Prelims it really helped to read through other people's notes and essays on the internet, so hopefully this might be useful to someone.
It's just some very basic notes on specific quotes which could be useful to talk about in the exam, linking them back to and showing how they represent parts of the overall text.

N.B. The two videos (both SparkNotes) are different; the first is a summary of Gatsby's life, the second is a summary of the book.



Characterisation Arc
(chronologically according to Gatsby's life)

  "...his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people, his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all.."
  • He views his parents as failures and hopes for greater things.
  • He is dissatisfied with his place in society and does not feel as though he belongs there. Even as a child he tries to 'better himself'; we are shown his list by his father.
  • His parents are representative of the social group he is trying to escape.
  "Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his platonic conception of himself."
  • J. Gatz invented his ideal person, then worked to become that man.
  • Juxtaposition: Jay Gatsby is the opposite of J. Gatz.
  • His aspirations and dreams are the American Dream; to become whoever he wants regardless of his past. On a superficial level, he attains this.
  "This fella's a regular Belasco."
  • Belasco was a film producer renowned for the realism of his sets. This is the first real indication we are given that Gatsby is not who he seems- his home is an elaborate set, and Owl eyes has the insight to realise this.
  • Even though the set and background Gatsby has created is realistic, there is something about it which feels fake. Hence all the rumours circulating about him.
  "Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"
  • We discover that Gatsby's only aim in to win back Daisy.
  • Not only is he out of sync with society, he is out of sync with time itself. He is living in the past and usingit as his source of ideas for his future.
  "...tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther..."
  • Gatsby is trying to run towards his dream. He doesn't realise that it is in the past, behind him.
  • Every day has a "tomorrow". This quote gives the impression that some dreams will never be within our reach, since each day only brings resolve to do better the next, never a conclusion.
  "He was never quite still."
  • Gatsby is restless, within his time, place, position, situation. He was only fully content when he had Daisy. Now that part of her life is shared with Tom, Gatsby cannot fully recreate that contentment, even when he is happy.
  "...he had committed himself to the following of a grail." 
  • He is not in love with Daisy herself, but rather with the social position she represents ("She was the first "nice" girl he had ever known." where "nice" is synonymous with "upper class"). Becasue of the differences in their social standings she is unattainable, his high ideal, therefore comparable with a grail.
  • The Holy Grail was never found. This shows that what Gatsby was attempting to obtain was in fact unobtainable. Due to the attitudes of 'Old Money' towards the 'New Money' trying to encroach on their society, the social barriers of Gatsby's apparently shady background are impossible to overcome.
  ""Jay Gatsby" had broken like glass against Tom's hard malice."
  • I believe that this really is the point at which 'Jay Gatsby' dies. The sole purpose of Gatsby's existence was to win Daisy. Now finally even he realises that she is out of his reach, and he has broken.
  • The only thing left for him is to physcially die, which happens when he is shot by Wilson. 

(contrasts & symbolism)

  "This is a valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat..." (The Valley of Ashes)
  • Ashes are dead and crumbled remains: these are the dead, broken remains of ambitions and hopes.
  • Everything is grey, sick and lifeless.
  • It is both a literal and a social wasteland.
  • Symbolic of the plight of the poor and the failure of the American Dream.
  • Ending up here is the result of financial and social failure (possibly in New York?).
  "...the city seen for the first time, in all it's first wild promise..." (New York)
  •  Symbolises hope: this is meant to be the place where people's dreams, the American Dream, has the potential to be realised. However we learn that the American Dream is hollow and corrupted, since it is now based soley on material wealth and gain.
  • ^ Therefore people such as Nick go to New York to work, selling bonds, which are money, and Meyer Wolfsheim is based here.
  • This quote discribes will have first glimpsed America 'the Land of Promise' as they came over by boat. However few truly found what they were looking for.
  "I lived at West Egg, the- well, the less fashionable of the two," (West Egg)
  • This is where successful 'New Money' are based.
  • ^ As 'New Money' attempt to emulate 'Old Money', so West Egg is a feeble immitation of East Egg.
  • This echoes Gatsby's aspirations to become 'Old Money', but the facade he is playing out is also fakery.
  "...the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water," (East Egg)
  • East Egg is home to all the 'Old Money', the rich, well established families who made their money in the old industrial America.
  • Emphasis is placed on how fashionable East Egg appears as it is viewed from (and therefore in contrast with) West Egg.
  • Fashion is the setting of trends, therefore people endeavor to copy the 'Old Money' families of East Egg.
  • The word "palaces" implies not only glamour, but royalty- East Eggers are the American equivalent of royalty. Just as with royalty, their society is exclusive.
  • Physically, Gatsby is only across the water from East Egg. This demonstrates exactly how frustratingly close he is to his dream. Yet he is still not accepted.
  • He is seperated from where he desires to be by a physical barrier (the water of the bay, the break between the islands), which is symbolic of the non-physical, yet in it's way far more substantial, social barrier.

For other notes, explanations etc., I found this really useful; SparkNotes: Gatsby , and as a very good source for quotes when reading through the entire book isn't really practical; 'The Great Gatsby' Quotes.

I've tried not to rip off any one else's notes, which is quite difficult having read through loads of essays as a way of revising. Ah well, done my best!

Monday, 7 May 2012

In the recent absence of any nice, big, colourful pictures in the blog, I feel that it is necessary now for me to  add one in.

Not the most impressive thing to cook, but one of the tastiest *grins*. Just finished making florentines.

I have also aquired a sudden bug for knitting. And coincidentally suddenly run out of the right sort of wool. Sucks. =/

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Muck-Up Day

The main characteristic of S6 Muck-Up day, is that no-one touches anything.

Naturally each leaving Year at least contemplate attempting something altogether unique and special as their last parting farewell to Knox Academy, however there are some basic traditional practices which simply can't be dispensed with.

Superglue on bannisters
Syrup on doorhandles
Laxative in drinking water
Itching powder on toilet seats
Flower Bombs in corridors

... to name a few.

Consequently, all us hardened veterans of half a dozen leaving years treat survival on this day as a near-military operation. Plastic gloves are obtained as basic necessities, gas masks coveted, and if you're not lucky enough to swiftly make friends with someone living within sprinting distance of the school and don't fancy spending the day squirming in discomfort it's highly unadvisable to drink anything before lunchtime.

Unwary First Years are offered up as easy prey.

Friday, 4 May 2012

WHOA New 'Dashboard' Layout

.... And suddenly I can't find anything. This will take months to get used to...

On the bright side, apparently I now have approximately two thousand more views than I was previously aware of. Most likely the efforts of one enthusiatic clicker during my blogging absence. Or, now I come to think of it, my own handywork; I can well imagine having clicked the 'preview' button a couple of thousand times in my endeavours to maintain aesthetically pleasing standards.

Okay *deep breath*. 

Since I ceased bothering anyone for the past month or so, there is now a backlog of events to be typing about. Sort of hoping that in mentioning them now I can guilt-trip myself into actually writing up the posts (oh the horror). At the moment I find myself having a lot of energy for sleeping, cooking, reading... and not much else. In the interests of changing this some gentle intellectual excersises are being embarked on, such as; resuming some sadly neglected piano practise, refreshing a stagnating knowledge of Italian, an intrepid 'whapping out' and brandishing of paint brushes and of course, writing.

I have some images to accompany the tales of my recent adventures (few and far between).

There has been a spot of Walking (scrambling/falling over). A tad bit of Archaeology (being blown into a trench). A smidgeon of Self-Sacrifice and associated Fear (attending school on S6 'Muck-Up' day). A general Making of Things (pricking myself repeatedly with a needle). And a lot of Complaining (this bit is true).

Incidentally, whilst I think of it I might aswell say that I have booked myself into Edinburgh Uni open day as this was easily enough done and am just compiling the conclusive list of open day events elsewhere.

A temporary 'Cheerio' from me. P&S and Alisha (henceforth referred to as 'A'; S's mum) are arriving NUNC.