Feb 14, 2011

Three Misinterpreted Books that were taught in school

Books or novels convey different thoughts and meanings. Some present the truth, some quasi-truth, while some hold mix connotations of facts and fallacy. However, no matter how the books/novels are packaged and published, they always bear the real thoughts and ideas of the authors. They are written based on the authors' way of thinking, which corresponds to their condition, mindset and situation. Some are written based on someone's teachings and principles. But what if a book is being understood and taught contrary to what the authors convey? Surely, people would think about it differently and misinterpret the meaning of its conception. A good example of this is a book whose author has been dead without pointing out the real meaning of his/her work. I have read an article from Cracked.com regarding six books that everyone, even an English teacher, got wrong. Here, I am posting three books that were erroneously conceived and taught in school: Machiavelli's The Prince, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche.

3. Machiavelli's "The Prince"

If you've ever heard a politician or other powerful person referred to as "Machiavellian," you can guess it's not a compliment. That's thanks to a shifty-looking Italian diplomat named Machiavelli.

The reason for this is Machiavelli's The Prince, one of the most notorious political treatises ever written, designed as an instruction manual for the Florentine dictator Lorenzo de' Medici to help him be more of a bastard. Completely disregarding moral concerns in politics, the book serves as a levelheaded discourse on the best way to assert and maintain power, noting that it's better to be feared than loved, and that dishonesty pays off in the long run as long as you lie about how dishonest you are.

What it's really about:

Actually, Machiavelli was totally just trolling. Far from being the spiritual patriarch of the Gambino crime family, he was a renowned proponent of free republics, as noted in a few obscure texts called everything else he ever wrote. The reason The Prince endured the ages while the rest of his philosophy gathered dust in the back of an old library warehouse is chiefly 1) it's really short, and 2) it angries up the blood. By far the best way to get a book on the best-seller list is to write something that pisses everyone off, but the drawback is that it steamrolls the message of any work that's only meant to be understood in context.

The context in this case is that the Medici family to whom he dedicated his love letter is the same group who personally broke Machiavelli's arms for being such a staunch advocate for free government. He worked for the Florentine Republic before the Medicis marched in, mowed down the government and mercilessly tortured him, and then he sat down and wrote The Prince from his shack in exile, assumedly with some really bendy handwriting (on account of the arms).

2. Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Anybody who grew up in the 1960s (and still remembers anything about it) can tell you what Lewis Carroll's classic children's book was really all about: A girl takes a "trip" down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a surreal world where animals start talking to her.

Alice in Wonderland is the Fear and Loathing of fairy tales. It became one of the most important allegories of the 60s counterculture, with scenes that accurately correspond to the sensation of every mind-altering substance known to man.

What it's really about:

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of the very conservative Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, Anglican deacon and professor of mathematics. He wrote Alice in the 1860s, a time when the most radical thing taking place on college campuses was complex math. While that sounds innocent enough, Carroll thought it would lead straight to Satan. Yes, the book that launched a million acid trips was written by the biggest square in the universe for the nerdiest reason imaginable.

The Rev. Dodgson thought the new mathematics was completely absurd, like something you'd dream up if you were on drugs.

So he decided to write a book about a world that followed the laws of abstract mathematics, purely to point out the batshit lunacy of it. Things keep changing size and proportion before Alice's eyes, not because she's tripping on bad acid, but because the world is based on stupid postmodern algebra with shit like imaginary numbers that don't even make any sense god dammit. "Alice" was the sensible Euclidian mathematician trying desperately to keep herself sane and tempered, while "Wonderland" was really Christ Church College at Oxford, where Dodgson worked, and its inhabitants were just as barking mad as he thought his colleagues really were.

1.Friedrich Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

Friedrich Nietzsche is probably the most-recognized name in philosophy behind Socrates and Aristotle. But his notoriety with the layman is mainly due to the people he inspired -- Ted Bundy, Mussolini and Hitler. His seminal work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is about as cheery as anything Nietzsche ever penned. It popularized the quote "God is dead" and illustrates Nietzsche's disdain for the concept of traditional morality and his prediction that some kind of master race would soon drag itself out of the slime and rule the world.
He refers to the rightful owner of the world as the "superman" and the "splendid blond beast," and anyone with a passing interest in modern history knows exactly where that line of thinking is going. Hitler, who might otherwise have faded out of history as just another square-mustached college dropout, picked up a copy of Zarathustra and was inspired to do a little more with his life. Some years later he distributed copies to his soldiers and went about arranging a big-budget live stage adaptation known as "the Holocaust."

What it's really about:

If Nietzsche wasn't too busy being dead, he would probably have had a few words with Hitler about the fuehrer's liberal interpretation of his work, due mainly to the fact that Nietzsche hung around with entirely the wrong crowd. His sister, Elisabeth, and good friend, composer Richard Wagner, were both as Nazi as the goose-step.
After Nietzsche died, Elisabeth inherited the rights to his works and went about diligently re-editing them with a "kill all the Jews" subtext. It didn't help that Nietzsche's thought-baton was then picked up by the philosopher Martin Heidegger -- you guessed it: Nazi.
Nietzsche actually hated anti-Semites, having refused to attend his sister's wedding because she was marrying a Nazi, and even wrote that "anti-Semites should be shot."

And as for the "superman" thing, rather than referring to some genetically pure German dictator, Nietzsche was just making a generic statement about people who believe in the subjectivity of morals and seek to find their own values in the world -- a concept wholly incompatible with just following the whim of some guy with a hate-boner for some specific race. Interpreting Zarathustra's message as a call to raise an army and purge the world of undesirables is something akin to believing that Animal Farm was really a warning about farm animals taking over the world.

To read all six, visit this site www.cracked.com.

Feb 3, 2011

Talisman Online: My Obsession...

Over the past four months, I've spent most of my time playing Talisman Online... I have been playing this game for almost a year, but it wasn't like this time that I've been so obsessed with the game. But thank goodness I've learned to get over it and played the game only an hour or less everyday. Due to my obsession to the game, I even wrote an essay regarding my story about the game. I made it last month as my entry to an essay contest, and posted it on http://www.talismanonline.com/. Here's how it goes...

Talisman Online is my Second Life!

Today's generation loves to play online games. Due to the proliferation of Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), some people spend most of their time playing in front of the computers or laptops, regardless of the condition, time and place. I, for one, have been spending most of my time playing Talisman Online, "a free 3D fantasy MMORPG with a new impressive special experience." It has been a year now since I started playing this game. It all started when I began to realize that playing Defense of the Ancients (commonly known as DotA) doesn't offer a long-term goal and a greater challenge. Why? Because playing DotA for a long-time has not set my mind to anticipate a different kind of scenario, equipment, and guild. I'm not saying that DotA is not entertaining and challenging, it just gives me a short moment of experience and pleasure in playing. I maybe playing a different hero in every game, but the purpose and scenario are just the same. So I began searching for a better online game, which is a little bit related to DotA, until I came across with Talisman Online. In this game, I begin to think of a different and further purpose and enter into a different realm and scenario. When I started playing the game, I couldn't stop but continue and move on to a different field, scenario, and cave run to level up everyday. I became so obsessed to the extent that I spend less time on my job. But then, I would still be able to do my job after playing. Sometimes, my family, colleagues and friends would tell me to end this obsession and find something new and different. They even told me to get a life!
At first, I played Talisman Online just for the sake of playing it. Pastime, at most. I created my first character called eldevs, an assasin. I took some quests, killed mobs, leveled up, and did just what I thought was necessary. I did these things over and over again until I reached level 51. Yet, I played without thinking of a better build on gears and weapons for my character. Instead, I have used green items, from boots to amulets, except my talisman, greedy wolf chain simitar, thanks to the blue magic bead quest in Ghost din Woods. I didn't even save much gold and spent everything I could for something I didn't know if it's useful or needed. Compared to other characters that have blue or golden items from level 45 and up, I thought that I am so noob and so weak. In short, I was playing without a better strategy and a purpose. Anyways, reading the first part of my essay may have led you to conclude that I just played and didn't read any TO players' forum from the TO website. Well, you are right. I only read the basic guides and stuff. But I do believe that experience is the best teacher and it's the best way to learn things. So I created another character with a very common name in our country, dotaboy. I created this character to obtain what I missed in my first character and get what I must have: blue or better yet, purple and golden, armor, boots, belt, cuff, kneepad, etc. Aside from that, I need to save more gold to upgrade my talisman and equipments/gears by combining them with rubies, emeralds and other stuffs. Moreover, friendship or companionship with other players is important in the game to help each other in taking some elite quests. Through the help of my new friends and co-members of our guild, I could play the game with enjoyment and a smile on my face, since most of my friends would tell jokes on team or guild chat. Clearly, teamwork is essential to survive longer ang stronger in this game. Plus the fact that a better Talisman would lead not just a character but also a guild to victory.
With these in mind, not a single day would pass without spending at least an hour or two of playing the game and doing some reputation quests. Now, my new character has surpassed the level of my first character. And I could say that my gears are somehow better than I used to have in my first character, although other players may find them good or just okay! No matter, I have achieved my short-term goal, and I am focusing now on a long-term goal for my character, which is to obtain purple and golden gears/equipments.
I love this game and I don't care what others say how obsessed I am with this game. For those who are telling me to get a life, well I already have a life. And Taliman Online is my second life!

Server: Flawless Jade
Char Name: dotaboy
Here's my character.