How to Tie You Your Shoes in Three Easy Steps

Following this easy three step method will help you tie your shoes any time your laces get loose. Most of us do a lot of walking in our day to day lives, and did you know that if your shoes are loose, you just might end up with blisters on your feet? You must have heard that the solution to the foot blister problem is to tie your shoes.

For step one, you must grab your laces tightly in each hand. Make sure you are holding your laces tight enough to keep them from slipping but not so tight that you are not able to move your hands because the next step will require fluid hand movement.

For step two, you have to twist your laces together. This step might take several tries if you have never done it before because you want your laces to turn out looking like perfect bunny ears. If after several tries this step still does not work, and you do not end up with a perfectly tied pair of shoes, you can try the next step. You don’t have to be ashamed, I had to do the same thing myself.

For step three, you just have to give up hope. You just have to face it. If you have lived long enough and learned to read well enough to read this paragraph, and you still do not know how to tie your shoes, then you probably never will be able to tie your shoes. So you might as well just go out to the store and buy yourself some shoes with Velcro straps. Remember, if you grip your laces, twist them around several times, then give up hope, you can always have nicely tight shoes if you only buy shoes with Velcro straps.

Writing Joke Stories–Today’s Tip for Clear Writing

Ending Your Stories with a Punch

I love to be funny in my writing. When I have written funny stories in the past, I have been told that I don’t take my writing seriously. Once, I described my writing as ‘silly stories,’ and my writing teacher took offense. He told me that every time I call my writing silly, I denigrate the entire practice of writing. He was a little more severe than most. More often, I have heard from writing teachers that a story should not be based on a joke because it makes you too cautious to explore, or something like that. Honestly, I have taken so many classes that it is hard to synthesize all the differing reasons into one coherent one. From time to time, I am even guilty of giving myself reasons not to write joke stories. Something like jokes re too cliché, or it’s going to be too dirty or offensive to post online.

And I don’t remember the book or the author anymore, but I read in one of those writing classes that instead of ending a story on the punchline of a joke begin at the punchline. Supposedly, starting at the punchline gives you, as a writer, a much fuller world to develop. And that is true to an extent. Starting at the punchline and working on from there is a great way to develop a full-fledged and fully embodied story. But comedians tell stories. Many of them very good. And a good story from a good comedian ends on a punchline. It does. And some of these stories would blow many short stories from professional short story writers out of the water.

You need some proof to back up my claim? Go on YouTube and watch Bert Kreischer’s story, “The Machine.” I will give you the link, but please promise to watch it after you finish my rant. Other wise you won’t come back to read what I have to say. You will be down the rabbit hole of great comedians. Here’s the link:

Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with writing up to a punchline. It is fun. Just because something is fun does not mean it is bad. Often these stories end up on the shorter side, but they don’t have to. And you do have to avoid some pitfalls like giving over your original vision and falling into thoughtless clichés. But those are the pitfalls of all writing. There are clichés of fine literature just the same as there are of common jokes. And many good writers start writing with an ending in sight. A punchline is just that: an ending. And a rather strong one, I might add. You don’t see people rolling on the floor laughing begging to hear what happens next. They say stop it. You’re killing me.

Many people credit Mark Twain with the creation of standup as we know it today, and that is debatable. What Mark Twain really was, was a short story writer. He dabbled in Novels, essays, witty aphorisms, and speaking tours, but he mainly wrote short stories. And the majority of his writings that maintain notoriety are jokes. And one of his particularly famous short stories, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” ends in a punchline. It is one big joke and it ends in a punchline. No one would say that this story is cliché or say that it is not fully fleshed out. Some might even call it silly, but it is a great story. Here is the link to “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County:”

Mark Twain loved writing joke stories so much that he even wrote an essay, “How to Tell a Story.” In which essay, he describes in detail how he turns a joke into a story. At first glance, his essay looks about half of a page long, but it has several smaller sections. I would recommend that you take the time to read the entire essay to get the whole effect, but the first section would be enough to tell you what he thought about writing joke stories. It is, also, very funny and entertaining in its own right. Here is the link to “How to Tell a Story:”

Mark Twain doesn’t avoid character, place, and story development to fit the joke. He lets the characters, the narrator, and the story digress as much as it wants only to jump back on track and digress again. His slow methodical and round about style of telling a joke story makes the punchline even better when you hit it even when you see the punchline coming from a mile away. In fact, when done correctly, guessing and waiting for the punchline ahead of time makes it that much sweeter when it comes because you are taking the time to enjoy the ride.

All of this is really to give you this little piece of advice. Don’t let people or even yourself talk you out of having a good time with your writing. If you want to write silly joke stories, write silly joke stories. And while you are at it, go ahead and call them ‘silly stories’ if you want to. I give you permission. Write whatever you want to write however you want to write it. If you do that you will have fun. If you have fun, you will keep it up. If you keep it up, you will get better. And revising will be fun because you wrote something that brought you joy. Then you will want people to read it in front of you so you can see how much joy your stories bring them. So you will want to go back and worry whether or not someone else will understand your story. That way you will make clear writing fun.

The Differences Between Writing Standard Haiku and ‘The American Sentence’

According to, The American Sentence is a single line variation of the Haiku. ‘The American Sentence’ omits the 5/7/5 syllable structure of standard Haiku in favor of a single line of 17 syllables. The popularization of ‘The American Sentence’ is credited to Allen Ginsburg who felt the 5/7/5 structure too constraining for the English language. You can read the article here: After writing hundreds of haiku and more than forty ‘American Sentences’ in the past weeks, I have formed a few impressions about working in both forms.

When composing in traditional Haiku, at first, I would write out the poem in one long sentence and then make changes to accommodate the line length requirements. Often I would be required to make changes to word choices that alter the meaning of the poem. And that is part of my enjoyment of composing poetry: coming up with poems that surprise me. But not every one was better.

But after writing a handful of haiku, I internalized the rhythm and length of the lines and composed directly in 5/7/5 format. This was faster, but I was no longer with the surprises that I like. Also, I would sometimes be forced to use filler words to get line length just right or scrap the poem all together. I felt like major rearrangement of the word choices and word order would require too much work to get it to fit the 5/7/5 structure again. ‘The American Sentence’ version forced me to go back the beginning and compose the whole thing in one line, and it feels freeing.

Composing ‘The American Sentence,’ I am don’t feel so tightly constrained. I can focus all my creativity on the words in the poem and not the syllable count. I can condense away all the filler words, and I can rearrange and rearrange all I want. And guess what? Most of ‘The American Sentences’ I have composed still fit the 5/7/5 line structure of traditional haiku. So why not just compose in a single line and later break it into three and have a traditional haiku? Because line breaks matter.

When I create a super slick Ginsburg Haiku, and it fits perfectly in the 5/7/5 format, it reads awkwardly when broken up into three lines. The words at the beginning and ending of each line of a poem are given added emphasis, and the emphasis changes the meaning of the lines. You don’t believe me? Read this line out loud:

I don’t hate it.

Now, read the exact same line, and make it sound like you do hate it. Now, make it sound like you love it. Now make it sound like you didn’t hear a single word you were told, and you just want the person to go away. The same four words just meant four different things. How? The change in the emphasis as well as a few other factors that we won’t worry about right now.

So that is what I have learned about traditional haiku and ‘The American Sentence.’ They are both slim brunettes with a wild look somewhere in the back of their eyes, but they are two different ladies. Traditional haiku and I may be on a break right now, but we are not through. I just need a little more time with ‘The American Sentence’ to let her teach me what it is she wants me to know.

No Man Can Serve Two Masters: Classical Influence in Paradise Lost

Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, brings together Christian and Classical myth in order to draw attention to a foundational part of the Christian origin story. Milton uses his Classical education to connect his epic with other foundational texts of western society such as The Iliad and The Odyssey and to reiterate the importance of Christian studies alongside the Classics. Milton brings the Greek and Roman Gods into the story of Adam and Eve both to ornament the story and to reinforce themes with Classical parallels. Even the most fleeting reference to Classical myth creates a tapestry or parallels and meaningful connotations within the text. When discussing the repetition of a particular ritual in Homer’s Odyssey, Jennifer Clavore states, “The repetition marks the ritual as ritual, as repeatable; it exists as a form out of time, to be fulfilled in time” (Clavore 31.) The advent of Christianity in Western society occurs as a result of Roman imperialism, and the Roman Empire was built off Greek ideas such as democracy. Because of Western society’s origins in Roman and Greek thought, Greek and Roman myth have the quality of feeling older than Christian myth when viewed from this perspective. Therefore, Milton’s repetition of Classical references and rituals create temporal distortion in a story of the beginning of the universe. This distortion gives the Classical repetitions much more power than they would have already had. The inclusion of the name of the Roman Goddess, Aurora, although it appears only once in the text of Paradise Lost, acts as ritual repetition of Classical thought both as ornamentation and opposition to the Christian message contained within Milton’s text.

John Milton Begins Book V of Paradise Lost with a reference to one of Homer’s stock lines about the rosy fingered dawn (Milton V.1.) Milton’s line, “Now Morn her rosy steps in th’ eastern clime…” (V.1) corresponds closely to Homer’s line, “When young Dawn with her rose red fingers shone once more…” (Odyssey II.1.) According to New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics, “Homer uses these prefabricated metrical building-blocks to facilitate rapid composition of long narrative poems in an oral setting” (Epithet 378-379.) In Homer’s day, epic poems are committed to memory and sung to a live audience. The use of stock lines and repeated epithets are necessary to help with memorization and to keep the recitation to a standard meter. By Milton’s time, reading and writing is much more common, and it is no longer necessary to compose and store poetry solely through memorization. Milton has the benefit of written composition which gives him the luxury of time that allows for the revision of lines to rework rhythm and diversify the imagery to avoid unnecessary repetition. Therefore, when Milton incorporates Homer’s imagery of the “Dawn with her rose red fingers,” he does so not as a stock line intended to initiate the meter but as an invocation of Homer’s verse to locate his Christian epic within the context of the Classical epic tradition. In essence, Milton calls back to Homer’s stock line to invoke the blind poet as his Classical muse and use the image of Aurora as a de facto invocation of the muse.

In live performance, the invocation of the muse serves as a queue for the audience to suspend their disbelief. It allows the audience to believe that the poet is not some fallible person standing in front of them relating stories of pointless fantasy but a conduit of the Gods relating the secrets of the universe and is therefore a ritual to invoke holy revelation. According to Elizabeth Minchin:

[T]he initial appeal serves a practical function: it announces the performance. It is the signal for the audience-to-be to stop talking amongst themselves and to listen to an extraordinary tale. […] By implication he assures his audience that his story will be a story worth telling; its divine source is a guarantee of its authenticity and its quality. […] [H]e offers a bare outline of the story to come. (Minchin 1995)

As there is no performer to disrupt the illusion of Milton’s telling of the poem, an invocation to the muse actually serves to disconnect the reader from the experience of the poem rather than draw him or her in. And in a decidedly Christian poem like Paradise Lost invoking the muse runs the risk of at least confusing or at worst alienating the reader.

Minchin believes that this disconnection can be beneficial to the telling of a long poem such as an epic. Minchin says, “[T]he effect off the invocation […] is metanarrational, in that it interrupts the story to comment on, or draw attention to, some aspect of the tale or its telling” (1995.) Milton uses the metanarrational quality of the invocation of the muse to overcome the disrupting and alienating quality that accompanies such an anachronism. He uses the invocation to reiterate the Christian quality of his epic. Milton allows his narrator to explain directly that the invocation of the muse is purely metaphorical. The narrator says, “Descend from Heav’n Urania…/The meaning, not the name I call” (Milton VII.1, 5.) In this metanarrational flourish, Milton makes it clear that his epic is not intended to create some Pagan/Christian hybrid of a foundational Christian myth, but he intends to use the references to Classical myth for its richness of connotation as a metaphor for Christian truths.

Milton’s repetition of Homer’s words is used to iterate on previous imagery and to drive home important points similar to the way Homer’s repetition of rituals works within The Odyssey. Homer strictly details the rituals to be performed then shows them being performed in strict compliance to the instructions. According to Clavore:

In The Odyssey, the repetition brings back our memory of the earlier description, and gives shape thereby to the intervening narrative. In Paradise Lost, the repeated passages follow each other so quickly that nothing has had a chance to happen in between—neither for the reader, nor for Adam and Eve themselves. The return is too pat. (Clavore 31)

While the ritual and repetition that Milton’s characters perform falls flat, Milton’s narration performs successfully the ritual return to Classical tradition and myth. Homer sets the ritual and opens his epic with a call to the muse (Odyssey 1.1-12.) More than two thousand years later, Milton opens Paradise Lost with a call to the classical muse, Urania (Milton 1.1-49.) In this repetition of ritual, Milton does not return too quickly, nor is his repetition too pat. Milton fills his repetition of the invocation of the muse with Christian intention.

Milton continues to use references to Classical Myth throughout the epic as a kind of a teaching ritual that develops the Classical references into powerful Christian symbolism. Yet, Ernst Robert Curtius says, “[Milton] is […] unsuccessful […] in filling the Christian Urania with life. She remains the product of an embarrassing predicament” (Curtius 244.) According to Curtius, the Classical muse is incompatible with a distinctly Christian story like Paradise Lost. But maybe that was Milton’s point. If Urania does not come across as a real character, she must be metaphor for something else. John Himes says:

With a little careful thought it is possible in most cases to determine with certainty what moral quality each of Milton’s characters is intended to represent. The form, stature, attire, words and actions of each are always consistent with its central nature. Each is also associated with some force, agent, or phenomenon in the material world which suggests and illustrates it. (Himes 528)

Following Himes’ logic, Milton’s muse—though more of a metaphor than a full-fledged character—stands in for the spirit of God. The narrator begins the poem with an invocation of the heavenly muse. The narrator says, “Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top/of Oreb or of Sinai, didst inspire…” (Milton I.6-7.) In the book of Exodus, Horeb is referred to as the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1.) And Sinai is described a mountain of smoke and earthquakes (Exodus 19:18.) On both Horeb and Sinai, God appeared to Moses as a burning bush then again as a cloud of smoke and fire (Exodus 3:2, 19:18.) Therefore, the reference to Oreb and Sinai reconfigure the connotations of the Heavenly Muse from Greek Goddesses of inspiration into the fiery spirit of god that gave his laws to the Israelites through Mosses. In Book III., Milton changes the imagery of the muse from God’s fire to holy light. The narrator says, “Hail holy light, offspring of Heav’n first-born,/Or of th’ Eternal coeternal beam/May I express thee unblamed? Since God is light…” (Milton III.1-3.) By book III, Milton is asking God directly to inspire in him the knowledge that only God can know.

According to William Hunter, the light that is God is also just an aspect of God. Hunter writes, “I wish to urge that the collocation of the two images light-sun and stream-fountain reveals that Milton had in mind the identification of this Holy Light with the Son of God” (Hunter 589.) Hunter indicates that the light coming from the Father is the Son because the ray of light that comes from the emanation of light is both an aspect of the emanation of light and the emanation of light itself. Similarly, he explains, the Son is an emanation of the Father and the Father and the Son are one. Therefore, in Book V, the light of dawn coming in the east is the Son. Milton iterates on his image of the muse as the fire of God changing it to the light of God which is God. Therefore, the mention of Aurora (Milton V.6) is actually the Son personified in the rising light of day, and the Son announces and makes ready for the Father, like Aurora, personifying the dawn announces and makes ready for the sun, the source of the light of day. And the rosy light of the dawn similar to the light one might see coming from a flame draws back on the imagery of the spirit of God as fire.

Milton uses the line “Now Morn her rosy steps in th’ eastern clime/Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl…” (V.1-2) to develop Homer’s “When young Dawn with her rose red fingers shone once more…” for a Christian audience. Personifying the morning strengthens the separation between author and inspiration as the morning is the one sowing the inspiration of God as pearls in the earth. Connecting Gods light from book III and the rosy light of dawn, Milton reasserts his intention to narrate from the omnipotent position of God rather than that of a fallible human author, and the reference to Homer’s stock line about the beginning of a new day becomes a powerful Christian symbol as well as a reassertion of the invocation of the muse.

The image of the pearl works both as a physical manifestation of God’s influence, and as a reference to Christian scripture. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 14.45-46.) In Milton’s depiction of earth before the fall, the pearls of God’s kingdom are given freely to all of the earth that is reached by the dawn not just the land within the garden paradise. The morning sowing the pearls of light in the earth shows that in the eyes of God all of the earth, before the fall, is perfectly made in God’s image. But earlier in the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7.6.) With this verse in mind, Milton’s mention of the morning sowing pearls hints at the possibility of man’s fall as it states that dogs and swine are not worthy of the gift of God’s kingdom. And to reinforce this interpretation of Aurora’s dawn as the promise of God’s kingdom being free to all, after the fall the image of the coming morning no longer bears the rosy imagery. The narrator says, “To resalute the world with sacred light/Leucothea waked, and with fresh dews imbalmed/The Earth” (Milton XI.134-136.) While the footnotes in the Modern Library edition of Paradise Lost describes Leucothea as a Goddess of the Dawn (Milton 367,) Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary defines her as a Greek Goddess of the sea (Lemprière 321.) In this passage, the coming of morning is accompanied by Leucothea rather than Aurora, the Goddess of the dawn. And the change in Deity bringing on the light of day signifies a change in tone consistent with the ushering in of death into the world. The morning is no longer brought along by a willing Goddess liberally sowing the pearls of the kingdom of God, but is forced up out of the ocean by the Goddess of the sea who embalms the dying earth trying to stave off its decomposition.

When the imagery associated with Aurora recurs in Book VIII, it connects God’s light with marital love. After Adam discusses his and Eve’s creation and marriage, he asks Raphael if Angels form unions as man. The narrator says, “To whom the angel with a smile that glowed/Celestial rosy red, loves proper Hue, (Milton VIII.618-619.) Then Rafael says, “Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace,/Total they mix, union of pure with pure/[…] As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul” (VIII.626-627, 629.) The rosy red blush on the angle’s smile (VI.1) symbolizes the light of God within Rafael and is a recurrence of the imagery associated Aurora. As Eve is the first created female and as no female characters have been introduced in Paradise Lost other than Aurora, Leucathea, and Urania (who are clearly classical stand ins for God) and Sin (who is an allegorical personification of vice), there is no evidence to support the existence of female angels within the story of Paradise Lost. Therefore, the union of angles that is discussed would be much like the union between the father and the son. As emanations of the father, angels like air can mix soul with soul in an angelic approximation of how Adam and Eve mix flesh with flesh and soul with soul. The repetition of Adam and Eve’s union in the union of angels lends strength to the thematic importance of the union between Adam and Eve.

Even though the occurrence of Aurora at the beginning of Book V of Paradise Lost works as a rhetorical stand in for the Son of God, it is also an image that adds strength to the importance of Eve’s role in God’s plan. Much like the depiction of Eve, Aurora shows up as a beautiful woman in a pastoral setting sowing pearls in the earth everywhere the light touches (V.2.) If the pearls are the kingdom of God, there must be people to be governed over. Eve, like the image of Aurora sowing pearls, is expected to sow the seeds of the kingdom of God on earth by initiating the population of the planet. However, the ritual repetition of Classical traditions through the reference to Aurora does more than simply facilitate a multifaceted string of evolving metaphor, it also brings along all the baggage of Aurora’s place within Classical myth.

Homer’s story of Aurora embedded within Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite stands out as a classical counterpart to the story of Adam and Eve. Isabel Rivers says, “[The Gods] were moral allegories of human conduct and foreshadowings of Christian truth […] Pagan myth both adorns and reveals [these truths] […]” (Rivers 24-25.) While Himes agrees that one can come to a conclusion as to what moral quality the Classical reference represents (Himes 528,) the certainty of the conclusions begins to breakdown when discussing the story of Aurora and Tithonos. When used to do more than simply ornament the story of Paradise Lost, Homer’s rendition of the story of Aurora and Tithonos clouds the Christian message of Milton’s text in a dense fog of competing moral messages.

In Homer’s Hymn to Aphrodite, he tells of the tragic love affair between Eos, the Greek counterpart to the Roman Aurora, and Tithonos. Aphrodite says:

In much the same way was Tithonos abducted by Eos [the Dawn Goddess], she of the

golden embroidery.

He too belonged to your family line, looking like the immortal ones.

Then she went with a request to the Son of Kronos [Zeus], him of the dark clouds,

asking that he [Tithonos] become immortal and live for all days to come. (Aphrodite 218-221)

Because of the numerous similarities and differences between the story of Adam and Eve and myth of Aurora and Tithonos, the connection of the two myths causes a dizzying array of interpretative possibilities. In Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgil to Milton, David Quint says, “Narrative emplotment requires a middle constituted by repetition that, because of the dual nature of repetition itself, may short-circuit and collapse upon itself rather than proceed to a desired ending […]” (Quint 51.) The echoes of the story of Aurora and Tithonos within the text of Paradise Lost cause repeating and conflicting implications that do short-circuit and collapse in on themselves. A discussion of these competing implications exemplifies the referential distortion that is created by this short-circuited repetition.

Aurora’s story mirrors that of Eve’s story reversing the roles played by Adam and Eve. Aurora is a goddess, and while she falls in love with Tithonos and takes care of him, she holds him against his will. Eve, on the other hand, is subordinate to Adam. He was created first, and she was created from a part his rib. However, Eve does hold some power over Adam similar to the way Aurora holds power over Tithonos. Milton’s narrator uses references to powerful mythical creatures to describe the power of Eve’s beauty over all those who see her. Eve is described as a wood-nymph, a goddess feigned (Milton V.381), and goddesslike (VII.59.) While Aurora literally is a Goddess, Eve maintains a heavenly air about herself that holds Adam in her spell. Adam says:

All higher knowledge in her presence falls

Degraded, wisdom in discourse with her

Loses discount’nanced, and like folly shows;

Authority and reason on her wait,

As one intended first, not after made […]. (VIII.549-555)

Despite Adam’s superior role in the chain of being, Eve is able to assert her superior charms and live together with him as equals.

The echoes of the imbalanced relationship between Aurora and Tithonos reinforce Eve’s insecurity that leads to her being seduced by the serpent’s lies. Eve fears that Adam will begin to feel burdened by Eve’s inferior position that way that Aurora feels burdened by Tithonos. Aphrodite says, “[S]he nourished him, keeping him in her palace,/with grain and ambrosia. And she gave him beautiful clothes” (Aphrodite 231-232.) As Aurora is completely superior to Tithonos, their relationship develops from lovers into caretaker and dependent. In fact, Aurora becomes so overwhelmed with the amount of work required to take care of Tithonos that the love is lost from their relationship. Aphrodite says, “But when the first strands of gray hair started growing/from his beautiful head and his noble chin,/then the Lady Eos stopped coming to his bed” (228-230.) The signs of ageing on Tithonos’ head are an unavoidable reminder of Tithonos’ inability to bring anything meaningful into their relationship.

The Story of Aurora also prefigures the temptations faced by Eve while she is seduced by the serpent to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and Aurora’s story rehearses Eve’s fall. After Eve eats the fruit, the narrator says, Eve has “expectation high/Of knowledge, nor was Godhead from her thought” (Milton IX.789-790.) The narrator speaks the temptations that ultimately convince Eve to disobey God’s injunction against eating the fruit. Eve says, “[R]ender me more equal, and perhaps […]/Superior; for inferior who is free” (IX.823, 825.) In fact, the reason that Eve had worked separate from Adam was because she had wanted to prove herself equal to Adam (IX.285-287.) Yet, the fact that Adam gives in and allows her to leave when Adam, as the authority figure, deems it unwise is proof of her equality. Just the same, when fantasizing about the possibility of becoming a God, Eve says:

But to Adam in what sort

Shall I appear? Shall I to him make known

As yet my change, and give him to partake

Full happiness with me, or rather not,

To keep the odds of knowledge in my power

Without copartner? (IX.816-821)

As demonstrated by the story of Aurora, if Eve were to step so far above Adam as to be a God in love with a mortal, she would end up in the role of a caretaker causing her charge to wither and die as a result of the overabundance of care she would be able to give. Aphrodite says, “[S]he put him in her chamber, and she closed the shining doors over him./From there his voice pours out—it seems never to end—and he has no strength at all,/the kind he used to have in his limbs when they could still bend” (Aphrodite 236-238.) Tithonos’ immortality is an allegorical representation of Aurora’s smothering love, and it is her doting on him and providing everything for him that weakens him.

The comparison between the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Aurora and Tithonos helps to demonstrate that the healthy relationship between Adam and Eve is based on more than just Eve’s beauty despite how much it may overwhelm Adam. Adam and Eve have a fellowship based on rational delight where Aurora’s relationship with Tithonos is based off Tithonos’ beauty and Aurora’s sense of duty. Nowhere in Aphrodite’s story of Aurora is Tithonos consulted about the questions that decide his fate. He is abducted and placed in Aurora’s palace as if he is an object. While in the palace, he is fed and clothed as if he is an animal, and one could imagine that if he is asked, he might have a similar request as Adam has when he asks God for a companion. Adam says:

Thou hast provided all things: but with me

I see not who partakes. In solitude

What happiness, who can enjoy alone,

Or all enjoying, what contentment find? (Milton VIII.363-366)

Of course this conversation never occurred between Aurora and Tithonos as he was never anything more than a beautiful trinket to be enjoyed while it was new than locked away in a vault when it has lost its lustrous shine. Therefore, a conversation like this one must have occurred between Zeus and Aurora. The scene must have been much like watching Aurora asking Zeus for her plaything to be made into a real boy.

For Aurora the huge chasm in the chain of being between mortal and immortal Goddess would make her relationship with Tithonos particularly unfulfilling. Tithonos’ mental capacity would appear to Aurora as if he were an infant in the body of a God. Aphrodite says, “[S]he put him in her chamber, and she closed the shining doors over him./From there his voice pours out—it seems never to end—and he has no strength at all […]” (Aphrodite 236-237.) In these lines, Tithonos becomes like an infant. He cannot move or take care of himself, and while his voice remains, there is no recognition in the text of what he says. For all intents and purposes Tithonos can only be heard and not understood because like a fed up mother with an infant child that won’t stop crying, Aurora closes Tithonos up in her room hoping that the door will muffle the sound just enough for her to get some peace. Therefore, Tithonos’ ability give fellowship and rational delight is hampered by Aurora’s inability to understand his words and give proper care for his needs.

Aurora’s paradise weakens both Tithonos’ body and mind causing him to wither into a freakish version of a human child. According to James Rovira, “Activities sustaining the human body sustain the human mind, the seat of reason, thus turning “corporeal” food into “incorporeal” thought, the physical sustaining the spiritual, the rational. Milton didn’t present the corporeal and incorporeal facets of human existence as completely separate but as part of a larger, organic whole” (Rovira 90.) Milton’s organic whole shows the interconnectedness of mind and body. Thus, when Aurora takes Tithonos away from everyday struggle not only does she weaken his body from lack of required exercise but she also weakens his mind. The body contains the mind much like the mind contains the spiritual connection to God. And this weakened spiritual connection to God is shown by Aurora’s increasing isolation from Tithonos. The story of Tithonos and Aurora, warn of the possible weakening of the spiritual connection between Adam and Eve and God that could be brought on by a perpetual life of ease in the Garden of Eden

Instead of submitting to life on its own terms, Aurora and Eve take rash measures to live within an equal partnership with their spouses. Aurora attempts to raise Tithonos up as an equal to herself, and Eve attempts to raise herself up to an equal to Adam. Aphrodite says that Aurora’s mistake was asking Zeus simply for Tithonos to gain immortality when she should have asked for eternal youth (Aphrodite 223-224.) Yet, Aphrodite finds herself in love with a mortal man and instead of having him granted immortality and eternal youth, she opts to except life on its own terms and allow her lover to live and die as a mortal (239, 244-245.) Aphrodite’s choice to let nature work itself out through its own means is backed up by Raphael’s conjecture on the ascension from man to angel. In conference with Adam and Eve, Raphael says that if they obey God they will eventually be raised up to angles. He says:

And from these corporal nutriments perhaps

Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,


If ye be found obedient, and retain

Unalterably firm [Gods] love entire […]. (Milton V.496-497, 501-502)

While Aphrodite’s actions on their own seem to show that movement up from one’s station in life is impossible, Raphael’s conjecture overturns this belief and shows that differences of rank can be overcome by long suffering and obedience.

The story of Aurora and Tithonos shares many of the same characteristics of Homer’s story of Odysseus on Calypso’s island, and, therefore, the story of Adam and Eve bears resemblance to Homer’s story as well. In the story of Odysseus and Calypso, the idea of paradise is refigured as a type of prison: Tithonos is abducted by Aurora, held in her palace and eventually locked away in her chamber; Odysseus is shipwrecked on Calypso’s island and is not allowed to leave even though it is in her power to allow him to leave; And Adam and Eve are held by God within the bounds of the paradise of the Garden of Eden. While the story of Adam and Eve differs in the fact that they are not held against their will, they are held under threat of death.

While it is hard to know what Tithonos is thinking due to his point of view being ignored in the story as told by Aphrodite, it can be assumed by his unending and unanswered cries that he wishes to return to his life outside of paradise. In the Odyssey, Homer lets Odysseus act out the longing to escape paradise that Tithonos is never allowed to show. Homer’s narrator says:

[Hermes] found [Odysseus] there on the headland, siting, still,

weeping, his eyes never dry his sweet life flowing away

with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home […]

But all the days he’d sit on the rocks and beaches,

wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish,

gazing out over the barren sea through blinding tears. (Odyssey V.167-169, 173-175)

Adam’s longing for more than what paradise has to offer is not quite as obvious as outright weeping. After God parades the animals past Adam so they can receive their names, Adam Says, “[I]n these/I found not what methought I wanted […] (Milton V.354-355.) Even though it turns out that what Adam feels deprived of is a mate and God provides Eve for him, Adam’s desire for more than what a direct relationship to God and life in paradise has to offer shows that paradise is not fulfilling in and of itself. Adam goes on to say:

Which must be mutual, in proportion due

Giv’n and received; but in disparity


[S]oon prove

Tedious alike […].” (V.385-386, 388-389)

Adam’s complaint about the unequal relationship between him and the animals will eventually hold true between him and Eve. While it is true that Eve has qualities that make up for her being of lower rank than Adam, Eve’s inferiority is pointed out several times within the text.

The connection between Aurora and Tithonos and Adam and Eve emphasizes the difficulty finding happiness in paradise. The possibility of unhappiness in paradise should not be particularly surprising as according to Quint, “[Human Freedom] must be contingent in order to be free. This contingency makes the way constantly difficult, rather than ready and easy, for man and women to stand in godliness […]” (Quint 300.) Therefore, the inclusion of Aurora as a Classical reference foreshadows the loss of paradise as Adam and Eve could not have maintained a fulfilling and happy life without the struggle and unhappiness that comes from life outside of the Garden of Eden.

Milton’s Classical reference to Aurora and all the other Classical connections that come along with it do help add texture to the story of Paradise Lost, but at the same time the constant back and forth of Classical and Christian references creates a disorienting reading experience. The large number of Classical references contained within a story that takes place at the beginning of time creates a temporal distortion yanking the reader back and forth through time as well as in and out of Christian and Classical thought. The level of disorientation achieved, at times, matches those as found in books like Don DeLillo’s White Noise, or Jorge Borges’ Labyrinths. Whether or not Milton intended such an innovation, Paradise Lost looks back at the beginning of time using the literary techniques of a future time.

Works Cited

Clarvoe, Jennifer. “Poetry and Repetition.” Antioch Review, vol. 67, no. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 30–41. EBSCOhost,

Curtius, Ernst Robert. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Translated by Willard R. Trask, Princeton University Press, 1973.

“Epithet.” New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics, Jan. 1993, pp. 378–379. EBSCOhost,

Himes, John Andrew, and University of Virginia. Milton’s Angels. Generic NL Freebook Publisher, 1997.

Homer. Hymn to Aphrodite. Translated by Gregory Nagy, Hymn to Aphrodite,

—–. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles, Viking Penguin, 1997.

Hunter, William Jr. “The Meaning of ‘Holy Light’ in Paradise Lost III.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 74, no. 7, 1959, pp. 589–592. JSTOR,

Lemprière, John, 1765?-1824. Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary of Proper Names Mentioned in Ancient Authors Writ Large: With a Chronological Table. Routledge & K. Paul, 1984. EBSCOhost,

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Edited by Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg, Oxford University Press, 2008.

Minchin, Elizabeth. “The Poet Appeals to His Muse: Homeric Invocations in the Context of Epic Performance.” Classical Journal, vol. 91, no. 1, Oct. 1995, pp. 25–33. EBSCOhost,

Rivers, Isabel. “Chapter 2: The Pagan Gods.” Classical & Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry, Taylor & Francis Ltd / Books, 1994, pp. 21–33. EBSCOhost,

Rovira, James. “Gathering the Scattered Body of Milton’s Areopagitica.” Renascence, vol. 57, no. 2, Winter 2005, pp. 87–102. EBSCOhost,

Quint, David. Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic Form from Virgil to Milton. Princeton University Press, 1992.

Freytag’s Pyramid

8 Oct 2018


Freytag’s pyramid is a visual shorthand for story structure. It is used to discuss the different parts of a story. Freytag’s pyramid is often depicted as a triangle preceded by a line that connects at the base of the triangle and is labeled with four parts: the exposition, the rising action, the climax, and the denouement.

First, the exposition is the background of the story which often includes the place of the story and some basic information about the characters of the story. In classic story structure, the exposition is located at the beginning of the story. Second, the rising action is all of the action of the story that leads to the climax. The action of the rising action is essentially the plot of the story that puts more and more pressure on the main character of the story until pressure can build no further. Third, the climax is the part in the story where the main character of the story is no longer able to take the pressure of the plot and is forced to take some sort of action that he or she did not wish to take. This is usually an action that has some unwanted or unforeseen consequences for the main character or the characters around him or her. Finally, the denouement is every action that takes place as a result of climax. Often the pressure is let off little by little by every action that takes place after the climax and the denouement is often referred to as the falling action. The parts of Freytag’s pyramid can be used to keep track of the parts of a story when engaged in discussion or as an organizing structure when writing stories of one’s own.

Aesop’s fable, “The Goose and the Golden Egg,” can easily be broken down into the four parts of Freytag’s pyramid. The exposition is contained entirely with in the first paragraph of the story. The man is introduced, the goose is introduced, and the magical properties of the goose’s eggs are introduced. The rising action begins in the second paragraph of the story. The man takes the eggs to market, he becomes rich, and then he wants to get rich faster. The climax begins in the third paragraph of the story. The man comes up with a plan to get all of his riches at once by gutting the goose and pulling out all of the eggs. The denouement is the last sentence of the third paragraph where the man finds that there are no eggs in the goose and he realizes that the goose is now dead and he will no longer receive any golden eggs.

However, the very last line of the story is the moral, and the moral does not fit perfectly within the classic story structure as laid out by Freytag’s pyramid. In fact, the moral is there to inform the reader what he or she is supposed to learn from the story. The moral probably belongs as part of the exposition, and therefore, shows one of the failings of Freytag’s pyramid as a good model of story structure. In fact, there are more problems than just this one with this model for story structure.


Aesop’s “The Gosse and the Golden Egg” is a very simple story, but more complex stories tend to create problems with a simple application of Freytag’s Pyramid. Many of stories do not start with a big dump of exposition. Sometimes the exposition is simply put off for another section of the story and other times it is sprinkled in small bits throughout the entire story. Or like “The Goose and the Golden Egg,” where one essential part of the exposition is left for the very last line for dramatic effect.

Only in the simplest of stories does the rising action increase one step at a time until the climax of the story. In fact most stories of any length increase the pressure and then let some off. Then, they increase the pressure again and let some off again. This pattern of pressure and release would cause the line of the rising action to be more of a saw tooth pattern. And this saw tooth pattern would really stand out if one were to diagram an entire novel with Freytag’s pyramid as each chapter could be diagramed with its own pyramid of exposition, rising action, climax, and denouement.

The climax of a story brings its own problems as the moment of most pressure is a very subjective thing, and different people can find different places of the story to be the climax. Not to mention, there is no reason that a story has to have only one climax. Any story of complexity will have more than one character and each character will have his or her own motivations, actions and climaxes.

And there are many stories that just do not go beyond the climax. Often it is expected that modern writers will be the ones that leave off a story without a denouement, but Benjamin Franklin’s “The Speech of Polly Baker” just builds and builds until it ends in a climax. Therefore, Freytag’s pyramid ends up as little more than a useful thought experiment to be used when called for and tossed out when it is just too simplistic for effective use.

Second 30 Minute Analytical Essay Writing Practice in Preparation for the Writing Portion of the GRE

This time I did a little better because I took notes on the article that I was critiquing, but I still did not complete an entire essay in the allotted time.

When explaining the findings of a scientific study one must take into account the particular circumstances of the test in order to assess the validity of the validity of the findings of the scientific finding. The letter’s argument comes from information gleaned from a limited study of eighteen rhesus monkeys. Therefore, the conclusions from such a limited study are automatically suspect. The information provided by this particular study would have to either be backed up by several other similar studies or to be a survey of a much larger population of rhesus monkeys in order to come to any believable conclusion from the information provided.


Additionally, the argument directly compares the findings of the study of the rhesus monkeys with the findings of a study on humans without providing any information about how likely it is that these findings could be related. While it is true that monkeys and humans have many things in common due to their close relation as mammals, they are not the same species. Therefore, one cane not just assume that a similar finding in both species will stim from the same cause. The rise in cortisol in the in the monkeys could very easily be caused by a different mechanism than the rise in cortisol in the human subjects.


Also, the tests between the monkeys and the humans come from differing stimuli and may not correlate for that reason as well. The monkeys are stimulated by the introduction of another monkey, and the humans are stimulated by the reintroduction of an absent parent. A parent who has been absent is already a known quantity and the human subjects are likely to react with joy when reunited. However, the monkeys are introduced to an unknown monkey, who could be interpreted as a rival, so the monkey is more likely to react with fear than the human subject. Therefore, more information would be needed to confirm that the two studies could be accurately compared.

30 Minute Analytical Essay Writing Practice in Preparation for the Writing Portion of the GRE

This was my first attempt and I did not quite complete an entire essay in the allotted time. I will have to practice several more times before I am confident about my ability to finish one of these.

Archeology, like any other science, needs many levels of evidence to come to any conclusion about the specifics of the civilizations being studied. But this particular article is missing some of the evidence needed to come to a proper conclusion. The writer of this paragraph takes leaps of logic to come to the conclusion that Palean baskets are not uniquely Palean. To prove his point that the baskets should be assumed to be Palean, the writer of this article would need to sight more evidence to prove his conclusion about the baskets.


To properly prove his or her conclusions, the author of the short article would need to cite evidence of when the Lithos baskets were dated to in comparison to the dating of the Palea baskets and some evidence that show that the peoples of Palea did not have access to boats or knowledge about rudimentary sailing. If the Lithos baskets were dated before the Palea baskets were found, more credence could be given to the idea that the baskets were not uniquely from Palea. However, if the Palean baskets were proven to be dated before the Lithos baskets, the author’s conclusions would not be completely ruled out.

How much is known about Palea



How this evidence would strengthen or weaken

Batman the Movie

I remember the first time I saw Batman murder a villain in cold blood. It was the happy go lucky 1960s Batman if you can believe it.

Adam West murdered a hapless goon or three before he informed Burt Ward just how he could kill a few himself. It was chilling to see how matter of fact Batman and Robin could be when taking a life.

The Penguin had accidentally added radioactive hard water to his dehydrated goons to rehydrate them. One good punch and they would blink out of existence. Where did he think they were going? Batman is the world’s greatest detective. He had to know.

But if Batman is willing to inflict inhuman torture on these poor goons, just imagine what hell they must have been put through when the Joker used his high tech torture device to suck every last drop of water out of these hapless humans to turn them into dayglow piles of pink and yellow dust in the first place.

April Poem 24: NaPoWriMo

The thing about living with chronic pain is that you forget that it is there. It becomes the baseline. The normal. The only times that you even remember that you are in pain is when you do something that causes it to flare up or when for some unexplained reason the pain temporarily goes away.


The flare ups are normal. You expect them. You have learned the work arounds. Over the last year or so people have become used to seeing you rubbing your shoulder. They no longer ask you if you are OK. Or if you need help lifting that box. That is just who you are the person that whines about your bum shoulder. Although, you never actually whine. You don’t even acknowledge the pain. The shoulder rubbing is just reflex.


But even them, the people that can no longer stand how much you complain about your arm (You never complain about your arm.), they don’t even notice the limp that you have been suppressing for the last 17 years. You don’t even remember the way it felt the last time it flared up. You just washed a couple of aspirins down with your last glass of water before bed and then complained about the strange bout of insomnia that you were having that night because not even you notice the intense pain that is keeping you awake.


But when the pain goes away. Those rare days when you wake up whistling, when you want to jump down the stairs, when you want to go to the park and join a pick up, but you don’t. That is when you realize something is wrong. You don’t do any of those things because you know that something is very wrong.


You remember the daily pain and pull back from living. Your normal daily activities are now too dangerous to attempt because you don’t want to shorten this ever too brief respite. Now, you know something is very wrong.


You want to go to the doctor and make him fix it. You want some sort of diagnosis. It must be something. Your doctor must have some cure. But you feel better, so you can’t bring yourself to go. You will talk to the doctor when it hurts again, but it is too late. The pain is back, and you have already forgotten what it feels like.

2010 Personal Narrative Essay: Anchors Aweigh

The two days after Christmas had been consumed with busywork and travel. The first day, I filled out paperwork at the Los Angeles, Military Entrance Processing Station. The next day, I flew from Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois. Although I was stressed and tired, I was happy to be on my own for the first time. Then I arrived at the Naval Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. It was December 27, 1995 at 11:00 pm, and the brainwashing had begun.

Luggage in hand, the other new arrivals and I were filed into a small room with a row of desks and a chalkboard on the wall, and we waited. Periodically a man in a sharply creased, blue military uniform popped his head into the room and yelled for us to stay awake and shut up. After about an hour and a half, another man, dressed in a khaki uniform and a funny hat, came into the room with an enormous stack of paperwork and pens. He stated his name and rank, passed out large stacks of paperwork and a pen to each of us, and ordered us to sign each sheet. “You will complete this task before you can go to sleep,” he bellowed.

Upon completion of the paperwork, we were herded through labyrinths of halls and rooms. Each room had its own function; yet, all were designed to humiliate and degrade. We reached room one; we were given a total of two minutes for thirty of us to call home. However, there were only six payphones. We reached room two; our luggage and the clothes we were wearing were packed up and sent back to our families, and we stood in the middle of the room naked. Then, two clerks passed out our new clothes as we stood there embarrassed and cold, and we were ordered to get dressed. We reached room three; a barber, angry and tired, butchered our hair. He used quick strokes with dull clippers and ripped out more hair than he cut. We reached room four; it was a cavernous room with multiple stations set up to poke and prod. I received a series of injections culminating in a shot of penicillin in my left buttock that left me limping for days. Finally, we were sent outside.

In the dark and cold of a Chicago winter night we walked single file through the snow; we wore only sweat suits and jogging shoes. The horizon began to lighten as we arrived at our new barracks to sleep. First thing in the morning, I awakened to the sound of a grown man yelling obscenities and beating on a trashcan lid. The sun was just peeking into the sky. I felt like I had slept only three or four minutes and probably had.

For the next two months, I marched. I marched until my feet were blistered. I marched until the blisters on my feet popped. I marched until the popped blisters on my feet began to bleed. I marched until the popped and bleeding blisters on my feet began to ooze a stinking, green puss that glued my socks to my feet. I marched until the wounds on my feet healed, and the throbbing dimmed into a total lack of feeling.

I woke up when I was told. I ate when I was told. I exercised when I was told, and I did not stop until I was told. I no longer cared why I was told to do something; the only thing that mattered was that precise moment, and when that moment was over I did not think of it again. I was a cocked and loaded weapon; if a superior pulled my trigger, I would do as I was ordered without thought and without conscience. It took me a lot of time and distance from boot camp to fully deprogram myself of the military’s mind control, but I learned a valuable lesson. Self-control and individual thought is an illusion; therefore, to make sure I am dictating my own actions and not having them dictated for me, I question every action before I take it.