"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

Author: Matthew (page 1 of 2)

This isn’t what I expected: French Revolution Journal

These are extracts from Hugo’s Journal, a man who was exposed to a series of events during the French Revolution.  It illustrates his emotional changes while undergoing several mental shocks, mostly because his revolution goes way beyond than expected.

French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, then Bloody

The French Revolution happened in 1789 in France by the people who were sick of the unjustness and inadequacy of the current system. Through the famous Tennis Court Oath, they succeed in establishing a new constitution along with the rise of new supported forces. Things seemed to go well, until it became a venue for a bloody massacre…


Collaboration with my teammate was pretty easy. We could work together for a good amount of time and communicated via chatting platforms to give each other feedback, suggest modifications,  distribute left work, etc. It was hard to work on the weekend, though, because we both didn’t have much time and couldn’t give immediate responses and amendments to each other’s work that was done in a rush. Still, I think the result is of a decent quality.

Trapped…Between pages of the book

“Trapped” is a short nonfiction book written by Marc Aronson that introduces an incident of miners being confined inside the mine. While showing the rescue operations proceeded above ground and the systemization and dispassionateness of the miners below ground, it goes through the ideas of discrimination, hope, empathy, and survival instinct. The theme I found in this book is that humanity tends to occur only in extreme circumstances, but we should always have it in our minds.

I think this book tries to emphasize its theme in a way that readers could feel boring and wordy, so it is easy to lose interest soon after you start reading. Sometimes,  I even found myself reading the same passage over and over again. Also, the story itself does not unfold very dramatically. Therefore, in general, I don’t recommend this book for readers who want excitement from the book.

In this unit, I learned some note-taking strategies that can provide me a deeper understanding of the book. I can now more quickly understand the meaning of puzzling paragraphs and effectively organize and look for ideas. Also, when I am annotating and taking notes, I found out that I become more engaged and concentrated so that I doze off less.

Brief explanation about the incident



Boxers: The Society of Brutal and Witless Fists

In 1898, a massive rebellion against the Christians and the foreigners occurred widely across China. It was caused by the Boxers, an association of peasants who would call themselves ‘The Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists,’ and therefore is called ‘The Boxer rebellion.’ The Boxers deserve a bad rap because they were brutal killers who were overdriven by anger to move emotionally and unreasonably.

During the rebellion, more than 230 foreigners were killed by the Boxers. They held massacre regardless of age or gender; they wandered around the streets, slaughtering every foreigner they could find. People had to hide in legations or churches and tremble with fear. Not only that, but they wrecked and burned down many constructions, causing a massive economic loss. Although they were in very harsh situations, there are no legitimate reasons for them to exert such violence. In the pretext of ostracizing external powers and supporting the government, the Boxers were trying to vent their anger by committing crimes against the foreigners and the Christians. In fact, foreigners didn’t even use violence first. Why do all the innocent foreigners have to die when they are just trying to make a living outside their country? And why do all the Christians have to die when they simply want to worship their god? I think this is nothing different from racism.

Furthermore, witless and reckless were they to make all the foreign countries their enemy and destroy buildings. It caused massive economic harm for China since they had to pay for all the damage. In the end, they even failed to achieve any of their nominal purposes and left only a huge loss of life. This is the result of them losing their reason and being swayed only by anger. Their actions would deserve criticism even if they started the rebellion for the right reasons.

And this is not even true—one of the foremost reasons why the Boxers revolt was that they felt angry and intimidated. The increase of foreign legations and the forbidden area largened their victim mentality, and Christianity seemed to be threatening their traditional religions and preventing gods from dropping rain for them. However, these are all their misapprehension and illusion. They didn’t even take time to think if their suspicions were right and began their massacre for that reason. The foreigners and the Christians were actually just a scapegoat of the Boxers’ anxiety and anger. Many people probably would have died without knowing why they should. Even though there were minor incidents that could have made them scared, the reasons they had weren’t enough for their behaviors.

The Boxer Rebellion is just a large-scale crime that has taken advantage of the fact that they are peasants. They don’t deserve the name ‘The Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists’ since all they have left was the loss of lives, money, and another form of violence. Ignorance and starvation couldn’t be an excuse for their reckless killing. It would be wise not to look at these people with just compassion, but think about what morality is as a human being.

Background knowledge for the Boxer Rebellion


Magazine cover-midsummer edition 1605

I gave the title firm women because of the characteristic of Hermia. Even though the period she was living in was androcentric and patriarchal and therefore marriages were rarely a product of love, she never bends her will. She instead decides to take risks, planning to run away, even in the threat of death by his father.
For the image of Hermia, I chose Rose Dewitt Buckater from the movie Titanic. They both are in a situation where they have to marry someone they don’t want to, so they try to run away. Also, Hermia is described as beautiful in the story, and so is Rose in the movie.


 Felix Mendelssohn’s overture inspired by the story

A link to original text






Humanism infographic

What was the Renaissance?

Background information on humanism

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: Not just a fighting story

No one probably hasn’t heard about the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and the name Mowgli. However, not many of them would be familiar with a mongoose (who has nothing to do with Mowgli and friends), whose story still partially composing the book. This unpopular character, nevertheless, has a message to tell, which is just as deep as that of other famous characters in the Jungle Book.

This story is called Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, where a young mongoose named Rikki-tikki-tavi gets washed up by a flood and arrives at a house of a British family, who helps him revitalize and be active again. Soon he discovers that two Cobras, Nag and Nagaina, are ruling the garden of the house and now even planning to kill the family to become king and queen of the entire place. Also, he finds out that a small, virulent serpent named Karait is hiding for prey. Rikki-tikki, who was already loving the family, goes into life-threatening fights with the snakes and kills them all at last. Then, he continues to execute his duty as a mongoose, fiercely guarding the house until snakes no longer dared to come in.

Through this simple story of a mongoose fighting snakes in the garden, Kipling could show that solitary challenges and struggles are often fearful, but they will eventually bring your growth if you don’t give up. From the beginning of the story, the author emphasizes that Rikki-tikki was an only actual fighter: “Darzee, the Tailorbird, helped him, and Chuchundra… gave him advice, but Rikki-tikki did the real fighting” (Kipling 1). It is directly stated that the battle lies ahead of him is a lonely fight; whether to win or lose is entirely up to him. Indeed, the other characters in the story seem to have no intention to fight against the snakes firsthand. If he didn’t come to the house, there would be no other animals left in the garden to stop the snake couple. Even though he gets some minor help from others, Rikki-tikki is ultimately going through a ‘solitary challenge’. And since he is a young mongoose who lacks experience, this may well have made him frightened. However, never does he give up trying to get rid of the enemies. These attitudes are both well shown from his soliloquy and thoughts when he raids Nag: “’If I don’t break his back at the first jump… he can still fight. And if he fights–O Rikki!’… As he held he closed his jaws tighter and tighter, for he made sure he would be banged to death, and, for the honor of his family, he preferred to be found with his teeth locked” (5). Rikki-tikki knows that he is yet vulnerable, and Nag could kill him without much difficulty if he gives a sincere attack. In other words, he knows that the battle could take his life-and very few of the creatures on Earth would be gallant in front of death. Nevertheless, this young mongoose keeps on fighting, regardless of the fear of being killed. Even though he is scared, he is willing to die for the family’s safety after Nag’s death. However, he contrives to survive, maybe due to his bravery, and at the rear end of the story, his challenges and efforts finally come to fruition. He kills Nagaina at last and purifies the garden of snakes, successfully securing the family: “as she plunged into the rat-hole where she and Nag used to live, his little white teeth were clenched on her tail, and he went down with her–and very few mongooses, however wise and old they may be, care to follow a cobra into its hole… the grass quivered again, and Rikki-tikki, covered with dirt, dragged himself out of the hole… ‘It is all over,’ he said. ‘The widow will never come out again’” (7-8). Incidentally, this also could be a testament to his growth. In the early phase of the story, Rikki-tikki had a shortage of knowledge and skill in hunting snakes and barely managed to survive from the waves of threat. However, as he encounters and fights them one by one, he continuously learns and improves. For instance, before ambushing Nag, he recollects a memory of being attacked by Karait for not suppressing him quickly, to carefully determining the spot to bite. Therefore, in the end, he could triumph from the fight in a snake’s nest, which is considered very hard and perilous even for elder mongooses. In addition to this, signals of his huge growth are hidden here and there in the story afterward. For example, in the last paragraph of the story, Kipling stresses that “[Rikki-tikki] kept that garden as a mongoose should keep it, with tooth and jump and spring and bite, till never a cobra dared show its head inside the walls” (9). This shows the loyalty of him sincerely guarding the house for his family, but simultaneously implies that he has now become a furious warrior, keeping the snakes out of the way. All of his achievements couldn’t be if it weren’t for the previous two battles with the snakes he had held, risking his life.

For mongooses, snakes, birds, humans… all animals, growth is often achieved by experiences of challenges. Even if it is frightening and exhausting, don’t give up. Keep on trying and trying. Regardless of the consequences, you may be unknowingly taking one more step to being mature. And, in the distant future, it might have become a valuable experience you could appreciate because, as Friedrich Nietzsche says, whatever does not destroy you makes you stronger.


A link to an old-fashioned animation of the story

A link to original text

At a moment when your parents stop kissing you goodnight

My Found Poem from “The Last Kiss”

This found poem was made by the words from “The Last Kiss” by Ralph Fletcher. This story is about a conflict between a child who still wants to be kissed goodnight, and his father who decides not to kiss him anymore because he has become too old. The conflict in “The Last Kiss” is external; developed from factors outside of the main character. The specific type could be ‘character vs. character’ conflict, which has the child as a protagonist and his father as an antagonist because it is happening between him and his father. For instance, in the sixth paragraph, the main character becomes shocked because his father, who exactly knew why he came to see him, just ‘said’ goodnight instead of kissing him. And this is where the conflict starts. On the other hand, it could also be ‘character vs. nature’ conflict, since the root of it was the aging of him(you can see the narrator saying that he was too old to be kissed in the last paragraph), and it is not something he can change after his will.

In the poem, I tried to highlight what goodnight kisses meant to the narrator, how the conflict grew, and how he realized the truth through it, which contains all the parts I think is essential for the climax. I inserted the picture of a baby being kissed by both his parents, but in black and white, to show that the perfect balance of goodnight kisses from his mother and father has now become a memory. Also, I placed a broken heart symbol in the middle of the poem to show that the reality was too grim for him.

A link to original text

The Black Death vs Smallpox



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