Friday, June 10, 2016

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time in a land far far away . . .

I love to ask people to tell me a story. I require them to start it out with "Once upon a time in a land far far away . . ."

I have spent too much time away from writing my thoughts. However, my thoughts are like the thousands of sands trying to get through the neck of the hourglass at one time. I haven't been taking advantage of the venues to express those ideas. Instead, I have been trying to ignore them, stint them while the bottleneck of ideas have made me physically exhausted. I run to release the ideas and clear my head. It's time to set the ideas free and pass them on.

I need to make it part of my routine. I need to blog regularly,  I need to tweet regularly,  and I need to pass on the ideas. In the recent past, I have feared that I would send out too much information, pass on too many ideas. I need to pass on the ideas and leave it up to everyone else whether they want to hear/entertain them.

The Thoughts of a Pirate blog may gain some more random posts, but the educational posts on my other blog will increase.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Am I so cold & emotionless that I can't cry?  Me, a Spock?  What?  Why
can I get choked up watching a tv show or movie, but I cannot feel
what I need to feel?  Why do I have to be strong for everyone else?
When . . . when do I get to just be . . . be relaxed . . . be carefree
. . . be taken care of instead of being the caretaker . . . be in a
position where I know I can let my guard down long enough to cry . . .
be . . . just be?  When I'm alone, my chest aches, my cheeks feel
weighted down, my jaw feels heavy, my throat tightens . . . but I
don't cry.  Logic tells me to cry.  I rationalize all of my decisions
. . . even when I conclude that crying is the solution, the tears
won't come.  I don't look for problems to solve - people bring their
problems to me.  I solve problems because they are there, not because
the problems are a challenge, but because that's what you do with
problems . . . you solve them, almost a compulsion.  I don't know how
to "stop."   I don't know how to shut down.  I know what I have to do
. . . can a stone-heart do what needs to be done, what has to be done?
 I need to cry - I have to cry.  I need to feel human, not like the
machine that I have become.  I have empathy for other people's
situations, but strain to feel this time.  Instead of being able to
feel, I feel . . . confusion . . . about not being able to feel.  I
ache, but not enough to cry.  If I cry, I can heal . . . I need to

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Christian Symbols in The Old Man and the Sea

While Hemingway makes the obvious connection between Santiago and Christ, he also plays heavily with the symbolic Christian meaning of numbers and objects throughout the novel. In using these numbers and objects that symbolically line up with Christianity, Hemingway solidifies Santiago as the Messiah.

Hemingway immediately initiates Christian numerology in the first paragraph. He refers to the “first forty days” that Santiago has been fishing – “forty days without a fish” (Hemingway 9). According to the Religion Facts website, forty represents “trial or testing” (“Numbers”). The site references Biblical incidents related to forty such as “Noah's flood, Israel's wandering in the wilderness, Moses' stay on Mt. Sinai, and Jesus' temptation in the wilderness all lasted forty days [and] The Lenten Season” (“Numbers”). Hemingway then expresses that in the forty day period, Santiago has not caught any fish (Hemingway 9). While GodWeb states that “the initial letters of each word in the Greek phrase ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior’ form the word ICHTHUS, which means ‘fish’” (Henderson), Hemingway shows that there is no savior at the beginning of the novel – Santiago is a mere fisherman in the likes of Jesus.

Because of Santiago’s bad luck, Manolin’s parents make him switch to a different team of fisherman, who then catch “three good fish the first week” (Hemingway 9). The ReligionFacts website identifies the number three with the Trinity and seven (one week) with perfection for various reasons, including the seven days of Creation, Paul’s seven gifts of the spirit, and the seven seals, seven churches, etc. of Revelations (“Numbers”). Obviously, Hemingway intends to express the lack of faith in Santiago and the false hope placed in the other fishermen. Using these objects and numbers , Hemingway is able to set the tone for Santiago to become the Messiah, suffering as Christ did as well as saving the fishermen by opening the “gates” to good fishing, as Christ saved his “fishermen” (most of his disciples were fishermen that gave up everything to follow Him) by opening the gates to heaven.

With such intense symbolism in the first page, it is obvious that this analysis can be continued throughout the novel.

Sources (MLA version 7):

Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952. Print.

Henderson, Charles. "The Fish as a Symbol of Christianity." GodWeb. N.p., 23 Nov. 2008. Web. 02 July 2009.

"Numbers in Christian Symbolism - ReligionFacts." Religion, World Religions, Comparative Religion - Just the facts on the world's religions. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In reference to book by Tillyard, E.M.W. The Elizabethan World Picture. New York: Vintage Books, 1959.

In lieu of following the structure of the previous entries, I am going to summarize Tillyard’s book with interpretations interspersed in an attempt to procure an understanding of the text. Tillyard organizes the book in a succession of ideas that build upon each other, much as the concepts discussed.


Elyot in Governor explains that order prevents chaos, maintaining stability (11-12). Hooker defines human law as a derivation of God’s law (divine law) and reason (14). Elizabethan chaos is defined not as “confusion on a large scale,” but as “cosmic anarchy before creation and the wholesale dissolution that would result if the pressure of Providence relaxed and allowed the law of nature to cease functioning” (16). After finishing the book, I can see the freakish pressure that this would have placed on people of the time – if one link in the chain is “off,” then the entire chain is in danger of nonexistence. In his work, Shakespeare defines order in terms of the chaos threatening to destroy it (17). Shakespeare relates life to a cosmic order: sun – planets – life forms = royalty – kingdom – citizens.


In a phrase that sums up the Elizabethan view on sin, Tillyard pens, “It was far easier to be very wicked and think yourself so than to be a little wicked without a sense of sin” (18). Immediately Iago comes to mind – he is wicked and knows it. The perception, as I understand it, was that God created all, man fell through Adam, man rose through Redemption (Christ). Stability (order) appears achieved through a balance of religious faith (believing) and sinning (living). I am still a little fuzzy on this Elizabethan ideology.

Universal Order:

1. Chain of Being – “unimaginable plentitude of God’s creation, its unfaltering order, and its ultimate unity” (26)

2. Series of corresponding planes

3. Dance

Chain of Being:

The chain of being was best related through Jean Martin’s translation of Raymond de Sebonde’s Natural Theology. The chain as conveyed in pages 27-28 is as follows:

1. existence (inanimate class – elements, liquids, metals). Virtue of components is present as water is nobler than earth, gold is nobler than brass, and ruby is nobler than topaz.

2. existence of life (vegetative class). Virtue: oak is nobler than bramble.

3. existence of life and feeling (sensitive class)

a. creatures that have touch, but no hearing, memory, or movement (shellfish, parasites)

b. creatures that have touch, memory, movement, but no hearing (ants)

c. higher animals – have all four (dogs, horses)

4. existence of life, feeling, and understanding (man – “little world or microcosm”)

5. spiritual class (angels)

6. God

All classes have quality that exceeds the class above it except for angels. The noblest forms of each class are identifiable, such as fire – inanimate, rose – vegetative, lion – sensitive. Abundance is key to the chain.

Links in the chain:

The Elizabethan notion of the chain of being is that every level of the ladder is made up of the elements and of the entities or parts below it in the chain. Tillyard mentions that a fiery heaven would have been the highest perfection because fire was the noblest element. As a means of rationalizing the connection between the elements and the divine, ether became known as the fifth element. Although the Elizabethans referred to the “air” between the clouds and heaven, it was difficult not to think of ether in terms of its nickname for hard liquor – as if you could “drink” your way to spiritual place (I know, warped).

Astrology and Fate worked on the chain additionally in “that the stars sway the mind to certain states by acting on our physical predispositions” (57). Conversely, “’Fate will be overcome, if thou resist it; if thou neglect it, it conquereth’” (57). This implies that the stars ply on a person’s weaknesses to control our feelings and attitudes that drive our actions. If he resists passionate feelings and utilizes reason, he will not become “fortune’s fool” as Romeo does.

As a visual aid to assist me in remembering the connection to the elements, I am including the chart. The “personality” portion of the chart is from







Cold & dry

Introspective, sallow, thin



Cold & moist

Sluggish, pallid, corpulent, lazy



Hot & moist

Optimistic, red-cheeked, corpulent, irresponsible



Hot & dry

Short-tempered, red-haired, thin, ambitious

Tillyard summarizes the scale of creation as:

· Beasts – “excel in sensible capacity . . . ,” are “. . . content with the mere necessities . . . ,” and “. . . have an instinctive sensuous perception”

· Angels – “instinctive intellectual perception”

· Plants – “excel in the faculty of growth”

· Stones – “excel in durability, and the best of them are the hardest and the most brilliant”

Corresponding Planes:

There are five planes in the chain of being:

1. divine and angelic

2. universe or macrocosm

3. commonwealth or body politic

4. man or microcosm

5. lower creation

Elizabethans looked for correspondences within the same plane (numbers, items, etc.) Correspondences were also made within the chain of being where noble equality of an item in the chain existed when compared with an item of equal nobility in a corresponding plane (for example in Three Moral Treatises, a poem by Thomas Blunderville, God – sun – prince – reason – justice).

Cosmic Dance:

All parts of the chain and corresponding planes are in continuous harmonious motion (a dance) with each other. I see this as creation and order.

In a final note, playgoers of the Elizabethan era had the pleasure and advantage of knowing and living the information Tillyard conveyed. A lot of Shakespeare that I have difficulty understanding would have been second nature to the Elizabethan person, allowing that person to give more attention to other qualities of the play. By applying the ideas in Tillyard’s book in my studies of Shakespeare, I am able to obtain that same advantage of the Elizabethan playgoer.