Friday, March 25, 2016

Introspection and Perspective in Hamlet

During my Shakespeare class today, I thought about what Hamlet assumes he knows at the age of 30, referencing his revelations in the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy. He lists what death can be boiled down to, while in a state of utter melancholy. I think in similar states of mind, we try to make come up with the same answers to life, and arrive at he same end. Which is sad; we're truly more often introspective when life is throwing us shit. I felt similarly the first time I read Hamlet my senior year of high school. Now that I'm reading it in college, as a much happier person, I noticed within this new perspective and state of mind reading it a juxtaposition that makes me realize the importance of perspective and emotion when approaching such philosophy. Thinking about death, and the course of one's life before death, can give fruit to different interpretations based on ANYTHING the person in question is dealing with in their life at the time. Reading Hamlet, and understanding where the character Hamlet is coming from in his revelation during the soliloquy is important. If the reader is skilled in reading a novel from the perspective of the protagonist, feeling the obstacles with him as he goes through them in the rising action, such a pivotal point would be read in the same state of mind the protagonist is in, and the reader would be less likely to project his own state of mind on the character's introspection. Which may be how fiction is meant to be read. It makes the character that much more dynamic, and is probably how most scholars (and, I'm sure, my professor) are able to read the text. However, I read literature with a much more holistic mind set, and I tend to project my own feelings on the situation. I look at the plot and characters too much as an omniscient viewer, by my own fault. For this reason, I read Hamlet's soliloquy with my own state of mind in class today - which made for a very unique interpretation of the text.

What I projected on the interpretation of the "To be or not to be" excerpt was my realization of Hamlet's age, as well as his state of mind, and I thought of my own ever-changing consciousness and moods, as well as my own naive age. Often I feel I've been through so many obstacles and lows in my life that I know everything I need to know about the necessity of them. But I'm not currently thinking about my life as a person on a low. Unlike Hamlet (who's just found out about his father's death, his mother's hasty remarraige to his uncle, and his uncle's murder of his father).

It's just the same as when a person who is for the first time in their life dealt a shitty hand reflects on all the bad times in his or her life, and stews on that idea until their inner reflections are as deep as Hamlet's own existential crisis.

This downward spiral of thoughts in such a fragile state of mind is the kind of thing that carries people into depression, or even suicide (Hamlet obviously exhibits clinical signs of the former). This is why it's so important for people to notice others who  degrade themselves - or speak only of the negative things to occur to them in their life - and comment instead to them on the positive things that have occurred to them. If nothing but to distract them for a bit from this negative spiral of ideas, at least for a moment they would question how bad they truly have it. And this might just save their life.

I write this post not just as a reminder to those reading of their friends and family who suffer depression, but also a wake up call for the importance as to perspective and state of mind when reflecting on characters' or one's own circumstances.

Think about your feelings right now and take them into account - Not everything is as bad as it seems.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The List of "Little Things"

Inspired by a recent video by the vlogbrothers, I decided to write my own list of little things that make me happy every day. I've noticed that these things are what really make me feel satisfied on a daily basis. They are mostly events, not things, which speaks volumes about what I value overall. I spent a few hours making this list. I had to return to it every so often, because I wanted to think about what each "little thing" said about me.

I noticed how much the word "finishing" appeared in my list. I never before realized how much it meant to me to finish things. As someone who suffers from ADD and medicates for it, this made perfect sense. I often get distracted from finishing creative projects, and this is often more detrimental than neglecting to begin a project in the first place. I'll chide myself afterward for having not finished said project. It's entirely counter-productive, but clearly explains why finishing is a "little thing" that means a lot to me.

I encourage anyone who reads this to create your own list of "little things" that mean a lot to you every day. Include as many as you like (I only stopped at 22 because I felt it was a solid list at that point. Plus that's my age and I like to be ironic). Post it on your own blog, or just type it up, print it out and hang it in your office - it could be a great way to remind yourself to enjoy the little things (whatever that means to you) whenever you're stressed or feeling down.

1) Breaking good news to people.
2) Finishing a good book and replacing it back on my bookshelf.
3) Getting so caught up in finishing a project that I lose track of time.
4) Deep conversations with people who share my values and outlook on life.
5) Finishing my coffee in the morning with plenty of time to get ready.
6) Watching my dog play.
7) Playing cards or board games with friends.
8) Long, unexpected phone calls.
9) Finding and correcting grammatical errors in books and textbooks.
10) Smelling a new book.
11) Looking at all the novelty things at Hastings or Barnes & Noble.
12) Watching documentaries.
13) Singing obnoxiously to music in the car with friends.
14) Beginning singing the same lyric simultaneously with a friend, unprompted.
15) Finishing an essay that seemingly ties all ideas together.
16) Finishing a class.
17) Bonfires in the fall.
18) Putting on freshly-cleaned socks.
19) Collapsing on my bed after a long day at work.
20) Showering in winter.
21) Excitement before and during a concert performed by my favorite bands.
22) Finishing an art project.