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By Lora Xie, IV Form
Reflection on Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih
Both Haneen and the Imam are important religious leaders in the village’s spiritual life. While Haneen, a Sufi master, represents the mystery of Islam, the Imam represents the traditions and doctrines of Islam. However, both of them bring God into the village life.
Haneen enjoys unanimous respect from the villagers because he is ascetic, enigmatic, and accredited with the year’s miracles, the most prominent of which being stopping Zein from killing Seif ad-Din and turning Seif ad-Din from a wastrel to a pious Muslim. Haneen also correctly prophesied Zein’s marriage with “the best girl in the village” (64). The marvels’ magic cause even the secular people, such as the “gang,” to admire in awe. Through his unpredictable, spectacular, and uplifting miracles, Haneen gives the humdrum village life a heart-warming magnificence that can derive from nothing but a loving and powerful superior. He strengthens people’s awareness, appreciation, and awe for God by becoming a vessel for the higher power’s love and greatness himself. (more…)
By Mo Liu, VI Form
Blade Runner: A Bipolar Fantasy
When Ridley Scott released his original Blade Runner in June 1982, the United States had just arrived at another peak of tension with the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan had recently become President, and he denounced the policy of detente that previously dominated the U.S. foreign relations approach and wanted to re-establish the United States’ fierce international appearance. Reagan devised an ambitious plan to actively contain communism that historians would later refer to as “Reagan’s Second Cold War,” in which he called for an overt attempt to destruct the Soviet Union. After a short time-out, Americans once again found themselves in the war of tug with the Soviets, watching out for Soviet spies and waiting for the siren to alarm them of an approaching nuclear warhead. (more…)
By Richard E. ”Nick” Noble, SM & SS ‘76
“Is All Our Company Here?” –Shakespeare at St. Mark’s
QUINCE: Is all our company here?
BOTTOM: You were best to call them generally, man by man,
according to the scrip.
QUINCE: Here is the scroll of every man’s name, which is
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
wedding-day at night.
BOTTOM: First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow
to a point.
In the fall of 1972, veteran St. Mark’s English teacher Jay Engel directed a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the third of what would eventually be five productions of the popular Shakespearean comedy at the School. It is vivid in my memory, because I played the central role of “Nick Bottom, the Weaver,” wearing denim overalls for a costume. It was also my first introduction to performing Shakespeare. Like so many St. Markers, my first in-depth interaction with the Bard of Avon happened right here on the SM campus. (more…)
By Mary Flathers, V Form
Belonging in Cunha’s “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and Alexie’s “Honor Society”
Belonging is a widely discussed topic in the present day. Whether it is belonging to a certain race, religion, or gender, a sense of unity is created among people who share a common aspect in life. Within Fernanda Cunha and Sherman Alexie’s short stories, respectively entitled “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and “Honor Society,” the element of belonging is explored in depth. In both of these stories, the narrators struggle with family ties and their identities. However, in Alexie’s story, the narrator focuses on creating a future and leaving behind a home, while in Cunha’s story, the narrator holds onto her past by maintaining the home in her mind.
These stories are similar in a multitude of ways, and the most prominent similarities appear in the narrators’ management of family and identity. In Alexie’s story, the love and respect the narrator has for his family are evident when he begins to “sing and drum with [his] mother and father” (Alexie 1). Though he does not believe in the “God” they sing of, he is willing to overcome the pride he has in his own ideologies to respect the beliefs of his family. Similarly, in Cunha’s story, the narrator has fond memories of a loving community. She recalls her grandfather as a man who “smokes a pack a day and laughs the way [she] remember[s] like he’s invincible” (Cunha 1). Though at times the borders placed around her family by the nations they live in seem too large to bear, as seen when the narrator tries “to better [her] [native language,] Portuguese, soften it so it is less jagged” (Cunha 1), the attachment the narrator has to her family allows for her to overcome these obstacles. Through studying this vital aspect of her memory, the narrator maintains her past identity. (more…)
By Mr. Jonathan Golden, Systems and Information Services Librarian
Words, Words, Words
I love words. What’s not to love?
It’s amazing to think that nearly the totality of human knowledge and understanding is expressed through a set of squiggles. What’s even more amazing is that each of us, every day, hears or reads sentences that we’ve never heard or read before and we are able to understand them.
Come to the library and pick a random book, flip to a random page, and read a random sentence. Ludwig Wittgenstein did not hold words in such high esteem. He argued that words merely express facts and are therefore devoid of any sort of value. Everything other than facts, everything that we care about, and everything that makes life worth living must exist outside of language. Language, according to Wittgenstein, is insufficient to capture the meaning outside of pure facts. He concludes his famous Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with the statement, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” It’s hard to take a bleaker view on words.
By Laura Sabino, IV Form
The Power in Controlling the Past: Orwell’s 1984 & Big Brother
Editor’s Note: 1984 was the St. Mark’s School Gray Colloquium Summer Read for 2017
In George Orwell’s 1984, the Party aims to control all of the citizens of Oceania. They have figured out how to take away their citizens’ privacy by watching them through tele-screens, brainwashing them to be blindly loyal, and even claiming control over their bodies and mind. The Party has limited language, so rebellious thoughts could not be expressed, and are working towards controlling the past. The Party wants to control the past because by controlling history and memories, they are able to control their citizens and gain power.
At first sight, controlling the past might not seem too important since most people do not think history is crucial to their everyday lives. However, the Party controlling the past ends up giving it power. People look back and learn about history so that they are aware of mistakes and things to avoid. People look at history so that they can get reminders of what worked out and what did not, and what ended up being good and what ended up being bad. In 1984, the Party understands that history defines its people. (more…)