Mythology with Erin

Adventures in storytelling

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Week 2 in Review

My favorite image from this week’s announcements is The Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David (Source – Wikipedia).

One of the first things we learned about in my first Latin class last fall was the Rape of the Sabine Women, then this event, in which the Sabine women, who are married to the Romans but related to the Sabines, stop a battle because they don’t want to see blood shed on either side. It’s a cool, “girl power” story, especially considering the Sabine women had previously been kidnapped by the Romans. Way to take back charge, Sabines.

The video that I watched was this video about nominalizations, or zombie words. I watched it because we actually talked about this in my Media Writing class this week! We did not call them nominalizations (and definitely not zombie words) but, being the grammar nerd that I am, it was interesting to learn more about them in zombie form. Now I know more about WHY my Media Writing professor told us not to use nouns that were derived from verbs. They’re clunky, pretentious, and difficult to understand. I’ll be on the lookout in my own writing for zombie words to appear!

Famous Last Words: Putting Out Fires

It’s been a hectic week. Professors have started to hit the gas, football season has begun, and even the ample free time that I have doesn’t feel like enough. I’m very thankful for this Labor Day Weekend so I can try to catch up; I don’t like to be off my game so early in the semester.

Even though it’s been a crazy week, it’s been a rewarding one. In this class, I completed all of the assignments, plus some extra credit. I didn’t finish as soon as I had hoped, but I did finish. I enjoyed the readings this week, but I think I’ll like it even more when we have focused units. The anthology, while a great introduction, was a little disjointed.

That being said, I was proud of my writing this week. I haven’t been able to write for my own projects since school started, so it was nice to relax by doing something creative. I think my story is pretty good, and I’m excited to get feedback on it in the coming days!

The real fire that had to be put out was the football game this weekend. I’m in the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band, and yesterday’s game day was an EXPERIENCE. I hate saying anything bad about my time in the Pride or about OU football because I truly love it, but that game was rough. It was just too hot. Pregame was a great time, and the first quarter was so much fun, considering we scored 28 points. After that, though, it was awful. We actually took our uniform coats off in the stands, which is something we never do. There was no breeze, water didn’t help anyone feel better, and the sun had no mercy. But we survived half time, endured the rest of our rout, and returned home to sleep for the rest of the weekend. 

A picture of the Pride snares BEFORE we all got heatstroke. Photo taken by Claire Lambert of the cymbal line. Sept 1, 2018.

As part of this Growth Mindset thing, I want to try to pull a lesson out of yesterday’s game, and really I’m just proud of myself for surviving. I was on the edge of heat sickness for most of the game, but I kept drinking water (and applying sunscreen) and doing my job: supporting the Sooners. I think I developed some mental toughness yesterday, and that’s a valuable attribute to grow. It was difficult. I lost the energy to yell or cheer after half time, but hey, I’ll never get tired of playing “Boomer Sooner.”

Next week, I hope to continue to stay on top of my school work and hopefully get ahead in this class and a couple others. I want to continue putting a lot of creativity and effort into my stories for this class. I want to continue paying close attention to my health by drinking plenty of water, eating well, and exercising at Pride rehearsal. And I hope (and pray) that next Saturday’s noontime game against UCLA will miraculously be cooler. The forecast shows rain, which would be better than 3,000 degrees, so my fingers are crossed. Overall, I want to continue to give my best effort in everything I do!

Featured Image: Fire. Source – Public Domain Pictures

Growth Mindset: Cat Memes

Cats are the best. Dogs are great, don’t get me wrong, but I love cats. They’re full of personality, they’re fluffy, they’re squishy, and they’re downright cute. I love my cat, and usually he’s the only reason I’m homesick. I can call my parents whenever I want, but I can’t talk to my cat.

Cats are also naturally curious, which why they’re a great mascot for Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset, which I talk about here. Here are a few cat memes that demonstrate growth mindset ideas:

I chose this cat because I love a good pun, and also, he’s such a chunky kitty! His caption is a great example of growth mindset because learning is done best when it is a self-motivated pursuit. The best projects in grade school were the ones with loose instructions, where you could pick your topic or your format. They were good because you got to choose what interested you, which made you want to try harder and learn more. When we drive our own learning, we’re more likely to take risks or choose more difficult tasks because we get a sense of ownership of our work.

I wanted to keep the “driving cats” theme going, so I chose this kitten. Isn’t he cute? This picture is about more than just enjoying a drive through town; it’s about learning. When we appreciate the learning as a process rather than as a quantifiable end result, we give more depth and meaning to the exercise. It also means we use failure as a growth point, or that we understand that we go at our pace, or that we give ourselves time to be curious. Learning is not a race; he who finishes first doesn’t necessarily learn anything more than those who take time to savor the process of learning.

…I couldn’t find another cat in a car, so I chose this handsome kitty. He reminds me a lot of mine, who is also orange and gets into things that he shouldn’t. The meaning of this picture is the same as the one above: learning is a process. This cat is taking his time to learn about the flour on this table. He may learn that it makes a mess, which makes Mom mad. He may learn that it gets stuck in his fur and tastes funny. He may learn that he really likes to throw it around, and pushing it off the counter may be the most fun thing he’s ever done (at least that’s what my cat would do). Like this cat, when we find something new to learn, we should approach it with curiosity and enjoy the learning, not just the end result.

Image 1: I drive my own learning. Source – Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats

Image 2: Enjoy the ride! Source – Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats

Image 3: I enjoy the process of learning. Source – Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats

Learning Challenge: Sleep Assessment

It’s really easy in college to begin neglecting your sleep. In fact, sleep deprivation can almost seem like a contest among peers. (“Oh, you went to bed at 1 a.m.? Well I went to bed at 3:00!”) It’s also hard when you’re away from your home bed, and your roommate(s) are making all manner of racket. However, according this article (10 proven ways teachers can improve their sleep) there are steps we can take to get better sleep.

I learned that it’s important to find the routine that works best for you and stick to it, even on the weekends. Usually, I wake up at a different time every day depending on when my classes start, but maybe I should pick a time to wake up consistently. It’s kind of sad to let go of sleeping in, but my body and mind may thank me for it.

I think it’s interesting that foot temperature is so important to being able to fall asleep. I hate sleeping with socks on! I keep my room as cold as possible (which the article suggests) with a fan on, and I usually have 2-3 blankets on top of my comforter because I like the weight. 

I really need to get better about putting my phone and computer away before bed. Lately I’ve been feeling more sluggish than usual in the mornings, and according to the article, too much screen time before bed could be causing that. Maybe I’ll try to start reading for twenty minutes before bed instead of watching another TV episode.

The 90-minute technique also seems to be an interesting experiment. The technique suggests setting your bedtime based on 90-minute increments from your wakeup time, so you’re more likely to wake up after REM sleep. That way, you won’t wake up in the middle of deep sleep, jarring your body’s rhythms. I might even try that tonight, since it’s Labor Day weekend, and I can afford an experiment.

I’m very serious about my health when it comes to food, hydration, and safety, but it’s easy to let sleep habits fall to the side. I’m excited to try to improve my sleep so that I can have the best waking hours possible!

Image: Sleeping newborn. Source – Pixabay

Tech Tip: Getting Started with Diigo

As a writer, I’m always doing tons of research, and it’s useful to be able to bookmark pages to come back to later. However, sometimes having all of those bookmarks on my browser makes it a little cluttered. Even when I have my writing research sorted to a different bookmark folder in Safari, it can be hard to find exactly what page I’m looking for.

I just got started with Diigo, an online bookmarking application. So far it’s making my little Type A heart happy. I love adding new bookmarks and typing up the tags to make it easier to find later.

I started by bookmarking several video game walkthroughs and guides that I keep on hand for when I’m playing. I felt that importing all of my current browser bookmarks would just make a huge mess. Additionally, I don’t feel that Diigo is going to become my primary homepage; it’s just too easy to open a new tab and click the giant red Netflix button when I want to watch a movie. However, maybe for writing research, Diigo will be a nice place to keep everything separate from my casual bookmarks.

I do have a lot of caveats and questions about the application, though. I don’t think the interface is very attractive or user-friendly. Part of that may come from the fact that I have a free account. The bookmarks don’t have thumbnails, so it’s difficult to tell websites apart. I’m also disappointed that there isn’t a more intuitive way to create folders. I love folders. There are a billion folders and subfolders on my computer; it’s how my brain works. In Diigo, everything just seems to be thrown together in a list. I suppose I could be a bit more picky with the tags, but if I have multiple projects with many different kinds of research, plus some of my personal bookmarks, I feel like even organizing by tags will get to be too messy.

I tried to combat the folder problem by making an Outliner, which seems to be a way to make project outlines within the Diigo application. I created a “Video Games” outline and inserted the primary walkthrough home pages for the three games I had bookmarks for. Then I inserted some of the smaller guides for each game underneath those walkthroughs as sub-levels. Technically, it worked. I have something that looks like a main folder with three subfolders and their contents. However, it was a bit clunky to have to manually insert everything into that document. I would much prefer to be able to drag everything into its own folder. Is there a better way to accomplish this kind of organization and sorting?

I would like to continue playing around with Diigo since it seems like such a useful application. Maybe I’ll find a way to make it work for my own purpose, or maybe it’s just not the bookmarking application for me. In the end, though, I do feel like I’ve learned a little bit more about web applications and bookmarking!

Image 1: Backlit keyboard. Source – Pixabay

Image 2: Diigo logo. Source – Wikipedia

Feedback Thoughts: Receiving

While I like giving feedback, I’ve always struggled with receiving it, especially if it is critical. I remember being shocked when I turned in my first college creative writing assignment and received a lot of negative feedback and suggestions; I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings of disappointment and hurt that I had. I still don’t like getting criticism, even if it’s genuinely helpful and necessary. 

I’m a notorious perfectionist, so I read this article: What do Students Lose by Being Perfect? Valuable Failure. I liked what it had to say about how expecting students to be perfect actually harms their ability to act independently and solve problems later in life. We need students to take risks in order to grow into adults who take risks because its often those situations that lead to the most progress, innovation, or success. I personally want to be more open to taking risks because I want to work in a creative field. If I’m not willing to take risks, how will I ever be able to write something truly original or exciting? This article also reminded me of a saying from one of my favorite childhood TV shows, The Magic School Bus. In every episode, Ms. Frizzle says, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

I hoped the second article I read could help me with my aversion to negative feedback: Overcoming the Fear of Feedback. I could relate to the scenario in the opening of the post, where a character gives a ton of feedback, but reacts badly to receiving some for herself. I love helping people edit their stories and essays because I think I’m good at it, I want to help them get a better final product, and I secretly think it’s fun to go nuts with a colored pen all over someone else’s draft. However, when I get my own inked-up paper, I’m overwhelmed by fear. I usually can’t even read the feedback until several hours later, when I’m alone and the initial tension has faded. I like that this article provides a process for working through feedback. I think focusing on negative feedback as a process and not an attack on my person, ability, or character would help me work through it in a healthier way.

One of the biggest things about negative feedback that I would like to work on (besides being able to read the negative feedback without having a panic attack) is deciding which suggestions are useful and which are not. Feedback contains false leads, and not all suggestions need to be applied. Sometimes I can feel like I’m expected to make every single revision that is suggested, but that’s not the case. Overall, though, I want to get better at receiving critiques in a graceful and beneficial manner.

Image 1: Feedback Scrabble tiles by Nick Youngson. Source – The Blue Diamond Gallery

Image 2: Feedback is helpful: don’t fear it. Source – Growth Mindset & Feedback Cats

Topic Brainstorm

I love big class projects. They can be daunting, but there’s nothing better than coming away from an assignment with a product that you’ve put genuine time and effort into. Some of my favorite large projects in the past have been a homemade geometry textbook, a full-length research magazine, and a huge book report portfolio/presentation. I often pour so much energy into these projects that I refer to them as my Horcruxes; they have pieces of my soul in them. When I’m finished, though, I always have something to be proud of! I’m eager to start my Storybook project, and here are my ideas thus far.

Mythic Heroes/Superheroes
Since I learned about Campbell’s monomyth in high school, I’ve been fascinated by how modern storytelling can parallel old and ancient myths. I especially like thinking of our pantheons of superheroes as a sort of modern mythology. I’d love to explore this idea further by taking classical heroes from different myths, like King Arthur, Theseus/Perseus/Hercules, and even Thor and giving them a modern superhero twist. Or I could take superhero tropes and ideas and project them onto the old myths. Whichever way, it would serve as an interesting way to highlight how human storytelling hasn’t changed as much as we may think it has. Here’s an article about how superhero myths parallel classic myths: Modern Mythology.

I love mythical creatures, and dragons are my favorites. I would love to do a project about dragons in myths from around the world, from the European dragons (like the one from Beowulf, which inspired Tolkien’s Smaug) to Asian dragons to more unfamiliar versions like the Naga, which I learned about here at Wikipedia.

A sort-of sub-genre that I’ve been into recent is the classic quest story, where a hero literally leaves home in search of some object, person, ideal, goal, etc. I just feel like I haven’t read or watched a good one in the past year or so. I would love to do a more in-depth look at quest stories and write a few of my own to satisfy my craving. Here’s the Wikipedia page for “Quest” with a bunch of examples of quest myths and other stories. And here’s King Arthur’s “Quest for the Holy Grail.”

Bears are one of my favorite animals, and I really enjoyed seeing some grizzly bears in Montana this summer. I think it would be very fun to do an animal-based storybook with bears. Here’s a story about a bear from the Blackfeet Nation, whose traditional lands include the spot where I saw those two bears: Bear and Bullberries. And here’s a Grimm fairy tale that includes a bear: The Willow-Wren and the Bear.

Image 1: DC Comics superheroes Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. Source – Flickr

Image 2: Photo of a grizzly bear taken by Kevyn Jalone. Source – National Park Serve

Week 2 Story: Susanna and the Last Prince

On a fair and sunny day, the lady-knight Susanna went questing into the countryside, searching for someone to share the time with. After riding for many hours, she crossed the river that formed the border of her country; she had never gone so far before.

            While she traveled down the narrow forest path, Susanna began to hear loud sniffs and gasps of air. She dismounted her horse and followed the sounds until she discovered a beautiful clearing in the trees. The ground was coated with the softest grass, dappled by splotches of sunlight filtering through the trees. It would have been the most peaceful place Susanna had seen, if it weren’t for the young man sitting in the center of the clearing.

            He was sitting cross-legged on the ground, his chest bare. He bore no weapons and had no companions. Even as he saw Susanna enter the clearing, he did not move. He just sat, staring straight forward. His face would have seemed stoic and serious if it weren’t for the tears that dripped from his chin or the way his fingers trembled as they rested on his knees. Every minute, he would draw a great breath to clear his running nose.

            “Who are you?” Susanna asked, approaching the man. “And why do you sit here crying?”

            “I am the prince of this small country,” he answered. “And I sit here crying because I am about to die. There is a terrible monster that plagues my land, and if it does not feast on rich, royal blood, it will eat my people. It has consumed my father, the king, and my mother, the queen. Not more than three months ago, it took my two older sisters, and its appetite has already returned. Every time it eats someone, it grows a new head, so my problems have only gotten worse! I am the last of my family, and after it eats me, it shall ravage my land and my innocent people. I have failed as a ruler.” The prince’s shoulders slumped as his face filled with shame.

            Susanna considered the prince’s plight and decided that she was honor-bound to help in whatever way she could. “You won’t be eaten today, Your Highness. Together, we will vanquish this demon!”

            Still, the prince was without hope. “I see that fearsome sword at your side, lady knight, and I do not doubt your skill with it, but even the greatest warrior cannot fight five monsters at once!”

            “We will put four to sleep, of course,” Susanna said. “It would not be honorable to silence all five and then kill the thing in its sleep. I shall make it a fair fight: one on one.”

            Susanna gave the prince her bow and told him to slay five small creatures and put their blood into five bowls. While he did this, she walked in the forest until she found a stream with a patch of beautiful scarlet flowers growing at its edge. She returned to the clearing with an armful of the flowers. She ground them up with a stone and mixed them into four of the five bowls of blood the prince had prepared, leaving one untainted. Once she had done this, Susanna explained the plan to the prince, who then returned to his place in the center of the clearing, this time with five bowls of blood in front of him and no tears on his face. Susanna took her horse and hid in the darkest patch of trees.

            It was not long before the monster appeared in its terrible glory. Each of its five ugly heads sat at the end of a long, muscular neck attached to a dragon’s sinewy body. It lumbered into the clearing, and the five heads converged toward the prince.

            “Wait, Great Dragon,” the prince cried as the five mouths opened to reveal five hundred sword-sharp teeth. “I know how hungry you must be, so I prepared these bowls of animal blood as an appetizer.”

            The dragon considered this request by sniffing the five bowls. Satisfied, each of the five heads lapped up a portion of the blood.

            Susanna had prepared each bowl with five times the strength that would be used for the flower concoction’s normal purpose: putting soldiers to sleep after particularly painful wounds. Thus, almost as soon as they swallowed the drink, four monster heads began to droop. The fifth, which had drunk the untreated blood, looked at the sleepy heads in confusion. Within a minute, four of the heads were snoring on the ground, and only the one was still held aloft, growling at the prince.

            This was Susanna’s cue. With a mighty roar, she charged from her hiding place and swung her sword at the creature’s thick neck. She dodged the monster’s head as it lunged back, but with most of the beast unconscious, the fight was quick. It took only five slashes to decapitate the monster’s head. Her honor-battle completed, Susanna went to each of the four remaining heads and lopped them off. Finally, the monster was truly dead.

            While the prince lavished his thanks onto Susanna, each of the dragon’s heads began to glow and dissolve. Suddenly, where five horrifying heads had been, there were five people! The first two, a man and a woman, wore gleaming crowns, and the second two, both young women, wore fine diadems.

            “Mother! Father! Sisters!” the prince cried, and he ran to embrace his family. The fifth person, an old man, rubbed his head and explained to Susanna that he was a magician who had messed with the wrong spell and become the monster that had tormented the land.

            Susanna escorted the prince and his family back to their castle, where the people rejoiced in seeing their good rulers returned. The lady-knight remained in that country for many days with her new friends, until the questing spirit sent her toward her next adventure.

Author’s Note:
This story is based off of Susanoo and the Serpent of Koshi. In the original, I noticed that it followed a damsel-in-distress trope, which, while classic, is not the most inspirational of story structures. I also noticed how easy it was to turn the name Susanoo into Susanna, and I love stories about lady knights, so that’s what it became! I liked how the conflict in the original story was solved by cleverness, but I also felt like it was kind of cheating for Susanoo to just kill the monster in its sleep. Because of that, I decided to include at least one small fight in my version. I was also inspired by the metamorphosis idea present in the anthology, and I wanted my story to have a happy ending, so I had the prince’s family come back in the end. This also made a great way to explain why the monster had so many heads!

Original Source: “The Eight-Forked Serpent of Koshi” from Romance of Old Japan, Part I: Mythology and Legend by E. W. Champney and F. Champney. Web source.

Image: Woman in armor at a tournament. Source – Pixabay

Reading Notes: Overview of Mythology

What Is Myth?

Myth combines many academic disciplines like psychology, science, and history
Myth vs Religion: blurry line, but even religious myths can be examined as stories from a literary perspective
Oral tradition is a big part of mythological storytelling
Myth: a story that has some sort of significance and staying power — I feel like this definition is too simple, but I guess it needs to be flexible.

It’s interesting to learn about the differences between versions: Does Persephone love Hades or not?
Used as an explanation for the seasons

Theories of Myth:

Mythology: study of myths
How are myths studied?
–Some ancient philosophers have stated that myths are irrational, false, and a form of lying
Euhemerism: views myth as a primitive form of science
Ancient Arians could have been the ones who formed the foundation for Indo-European language and myth
Mythology + Anthropology: we can understand cultures better by studying their myths

Joseph Campbell: the monomyth; mythology allows the individual to gain a sense of identity

The Hero’s Journey and the Monomyth:

Every culture has stories and heroes
Hero’s Journey: recurring outline of a typical hero myth
Heroes can be a reflection of ourselves

Hero’s Journey Steps (Abridged):
1. Normal Life
2. Call to Action
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Crossing the Threshold
5. Series of Trials
6. Ultimate Triumph
7. Return to Normal

Hero’s Journey examples:
Harry Potter
Percy Jackson
The Hobbit
Lord of the Rings
Star Wars

Crash Course Mythology 

Image 1: Ivan Tsarevich, a Russian folk hero. Source – Wikipedia

Image 2: Diagram of the hero’s journey. Source – Wikipedia

Reading Notes: Myth-Folklore Anthology

Origin Stories:
The Man in the Moon
     Uses a lot of repetition as the blacksmith and the wise man go back and forth
     The main character, the blacksmith, is presented as foolish and fickle
     The wise man is happy as he is; wisdom=good
     Plot twist at the end; the blacksmith must remain the moon even though he is unhappy. He learns to live with it.

Heavenly Beings:
The Eight-Forked Serpent of Koshi
     Susanoo=god, strong young man, chivalric, questing hero, warrior
     Kind of damsel in distress trope; handsome man saves the girl and marries her
     Uses the number 8 repetitively, parallelism, maybe symbolism
     The conflict is solved primarily by cleverness, not by a fierce battle between man and monster

     Pygmalion, the protagonist, is morally upstanding, refuses to marry a wicked or immoral woman. However, he’s also a fool for falling in love with a statue, and he’s ashamed of it.
     Venus, a goddess, intervenes in the affairs of humans
     The statue-woman doesn’t really play much of an active role; I wonder what her side of the story would be.

Tiger, Brahman, and Jackal
     Both the Tiger and the Jackal are tricksters
     It’s interesting that the jackal actually helps the brahman; usually one thinks a trickster is selfish
     The anthropomorphism of animals; they talk and reason with humans
     The Jackal feigns foolishness, but is actually cunning; uses the tiger’s pride against him

Fleeson, Katherine. The Man in the Moon. Source.
Champney. The Eight-Forked Serpent of Koshi. Source.
Kline, Tony. Pygmalion. Source.
Jacobs, Joseph. The Tiger, the Brahman, and the Jackal. Source.

Image: Pygmalion priant Vénus d’animer sa statue by Jean-Baptiste Regnault

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