Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Things that Come Up

This is going to be an epically bad week for me. Had 2 quizzes yesterday, an exam this morning, a paper due tomorrow morning, another quiz tomorrow, and a Chinese presentation due Thursday as well as a really long Chinese homework . . . on top of everything else. Yeah, I shouldn't be blogging right now. Oh well.
Anyway, I was have a conversation with DvF-M yesterday about epic literature, literally. We were discussing epic poetry like The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. It started because he saw some ad on TV for the Beowulf movie that's coming out, and about how it totally ruins the original epic poem. Well, the poem was written in Old English before Latin influence, so many words and grammar in Old English doesn't exist in today's English. It's like reading Classical Chinese and modern Chinese - it's really hard to do. Well, we debated that back and forth about how already so much is lost in translation, that a movie couldn't be that much worse (well, I argued that).

Then we decided to discuss what's actually considered an epic poem or an epic. Really, the last epic written was The Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien in the 1950s. Are epics rare throughout history? It seems so, I think.

Incidentally, epic poetry is almost entirely absent from East Asian cultures. What they have is the epic novel, like The Lord of the Rings. Supposedly, the first novel was The Tales of Genji from Japan. China never had epic poems, as most Chinese (and Japanese) poems are really short. Apparently, words are intentionally kept out of the poems because they're implied, and "what's left unsaid" was considered artistic and beautiful. Chinese poetry does have a certain flow to it, I must admit. It's also kind of hard to understand because it can be interpreted and translated in so many ways.

Now, the Chinese epics are all books or novels. For example, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Dream of Red Chamber (also called The Story of Stone). These are all ingrained into Chinese culture, as indicative of any epic I think. Journey to the West is the one I know most about, but still I haven't read any of them in English (and certainly not in Chinese). And that's why I'm going to take a course next semester in it, or at least I intend to. Epics for the win!
Today right before my evolution exam, I was sitting in class talking to my friend, JP-F. She's taking animal physiology lab this semester and apparently, it's an amazing lab (I believe it). JP-F was recounting how in lab yesterday they had to do an experiment where the frog/toad they were using had to be dead. Well, some people weren't able to kill their frogs/toads all the way, so they were still partly alive, and it was quite disturbing.

At this moment, EC-F turned around to comment how amazing that lab is, lol. A few seconds more of discussion and JP-F mentions another experiment she found disturbing. In this one, they had to cut a rat's tail near the base where it meets the body to collect blood samples (I don't think they cut the tail off). Apparently, blood goes everywhere as the rats run around in pain (heck, I would).

I commented with something like: "In research, my lab cuts off the very tip of mice tails to get DNA samples. You can only cut the tails before a certain age because if the mice are young enough, the nerve endings haven't connected to the end of the tail yet, so they don't feel pain."

Okay, I must note that I dislike hurting/killing things with the exception of certain insects (flies, mosquitoes, ants, wasps, the like). I try to avoid stepping on worms and such, and I don't even like harming plants, well possibly because I love plants.

So anyway, EC-F mentioned how people cut the tails off dogs when they're puppies. JP-F and I looked at her in kind of a dull shock for a few seconds. So, part of the tails of hunting dogs are cut off, and some other dogs have their tails "modified" for aesthetic purposes. I would imagine that it'd hurt, and EC-F and JP-F certainly agreed. Then EC-F was like, "The dog thing is kind of like circumcising male human infants. It hurts but they don't remember it."

Well at this point, with the mentioning of that one word, a really weird and uncomfortable feeling came over me. It wasn't like a chilling effect. It was more like a "my stomach collapsed and all my internal organs are rearranging themselves" kind of feeling (you get the idea, yes?). It was quite uncomfortable. All I could manage to say was, "That doesn't make it right nor acceptable." (And seriously, just because babies don't remember it doesn't make it right nor acceptable.) Why does that one word - circumcise (and its variations) - disable me so when said out loud? Here I am - someone who has no problems dissecting a mouse or frog, who can watch surgeries and eat pizza at the same time (actually, that's a short scene from the first season of Grey's Anatomy, but I could if the situation came up) amongst other things, but that one word makes me shudder. It's weird, and it's kind of like my fear of heights.
Okay, change of topic. My Chinese presentation is taking too long. Grrr, it sucks that it has to be all in Chinese (logically). I just happen to choose a fairly difficult topic to talk about and am having to look up translations to words I'll probably never use again. I guess I'll work on it later. I had contemplating not sleeping tonight, but that wouldn't have been a good idea and I've never pulled an all-nighter and don't intend to.

Now, to quote my roommate, DvF-M: "You're a weird man, Aek." Well, that I am. :P

1 comment:

Schildan said...

Epic poems used to be rather numerous in the English language. They seem to have died along with the heroic couplet which signalled the end of iambic pentameter.

Write now I'm trying to write a brand-new epic in iambic septameter with internal rhyme. I think it is a meter that is more conducive to our modern culture.

My epic is posted at skypathcrusade.wordpress.com