Category Archives: Writing

Running – Chapter 2

Her legs hurt. They burned like a fire that refused to go out. Her feet were weights secured to the two narrow pieces of string that were her legs. She was too afraid to look back, if she did she was sure that she would stop. Stop to look at the monstrosities coming towards her. Stare in horror as cold, dead hands reached for her and grabbed her. The thought of them gaining ground on her kept her positively terrified, so she ran. That’s all she knew how to do. That’s all she could do. The darkness threatened to overtake her, to devour her torch and leave her in darkness. The torch was fighting desperately in a battle against the dark, and it was losing. As she ran along, she shook her torch with the sheer force of moving forward, bouncing the small light ray she relied on against the sewer walls around her. The cobbled floor beneath glinted at her. She did not dare step near the edge of the narrow platform which separated her from the sewer water, she did not want to know what hell lurked there. How long had she been running for? A few minutes? An hour? It was impossible to tell. All she knew was that she was getting tired, fast. She wouldn’t be lasting much longer. Her hope faded, and she started slowing down, getting herself ready for the horrors behind her.

A light appeared. At the end of the tunnel, it was barely visible because of the distance, but it was just visible. Her eyes lit up brighter than her meagre light source and she put on an extra burst of speed, using the last of her energy for the final stretch. She panted, her chest heaved, her body begging for her to stop moving. The light grew brighter and larger as she got closer, and she caught her first glimpses of the sun…


“Damn it…” mumbled Zach. “Another wasted hour.”

A lone figure stumbled out of a small house, kicking a nearby stone as he passed by it.  The stone half rolled, half bounced along the pavement, finally stopping at a garbage bin further along the street. He swung his bloodied baseball bat over his shoulder for the umpteenth time. “Did the people here discover some new way to gain sustenance or has food just gone out of fashion…” he mumbled to himself. He ambled along the road, ignoring the dried blood all over the walls of the houses around him.

The sky was a pale, cloudless blue. The sun was unrelenting, trying it’s hardest to send more unbearable heat his way. If the infected didn’t kill him, the late Summer would. It was hot, humid and Zach was sweating more water than a running tap. He reached the stone and kicked it again, sending it skittering over the cracked tar of the road. It bounced and stopped at the edge of the pavement, startling a nearby crow. Zach watched it spasm its wings and flap its way to the top of the house next to him. It turned to eye him with a dark, spiteful glare. He chuckled and kept walking.

These days, the loud caws of nearby crows were the only traces of life that made him sure he wasn’t the last living organism on Earth. He hadn’t laid eyes on a person in a little while. A normal person anyway. He found solace in kicking stones following them, looting houses along the way. This was his new way of life, and hell did he like it. Call it what you will, but he called it adventure, albeit with the risk of a painful and horrible death. At least it was better than the life he had been living before this mess.

He reached his stone again but hesitated in kicking it. He realised he was at the bottom of a slope, and kicking the stone wouldn’t get it over the slope. The uphill road obscured any vision he had ahead of him, so he had to get over it, but he wanted to keep his stone. Rolling the mental dilemma in his head, he realised something. Using the tip of his worn out runners, Zach flicked the stone up in front of him, and swung with all his might with the bat in this hands. The stone soared over the hill, setting him running after it. He reached the top of the uphill climb and was astonished at what he saw.

The line of houses that he had been walking alongside ended abruptly at the end of the street. He had the choice of either going left or right, or straight. What troubled him was what lay ahead of him. The ground ended where he stood and dropped steeply, curving a few meters down and finally coming to rest horizontally. The slope repeated on the other side. Poking out of the slope at the other side was a large opening, looking like the cross section of a pipe. A large grate hung on its side on the pipe-like opening, sprinkled with rust and peppered with dents, as if it had been recently been driven into several times. The inside was cut off by darkness, but the occasional glint of water flashed at Zach’s eyes. He squinted his eyes and raised his hand to the sun to block off the light, managing to see a small flow of water dripping out of the pipe and into the large space before him. He saw something poking out of the water just beside the pipe, and for a moment he caught the flash of something golden…

“Logicomix warns against the pursuit of order in a disordered world.” – Jason L.

An essay I wrote for the Logicomix sac in mainstream english. Not perfect but could be useful for others studying the graphic novel in the future. -Jason Li


Albert Einstein stated that “As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” In the graphic novel Logicomix Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou explore the life of Bertrand Russell’s “epic search for truth” and its effects. In many ways the novel tells the dangers of chasing logic in a chaotic and inexplicable world. Many individuals who continue down this difficult path surrender to mental illness. Furthermore, by committing their lives to hard work, they not only expose themselves to disappointment but also then find it hard to maintain close relationships. However, Logicomix also suggests that the pursuit of logic is not necessarily perilous as fame and satisfaction can be gained. Therefore, while the authors clearly warn against the dangers of devotion to the pursuit of order, they also suggest that there are certainly hidden benefits.

One of Logicomix’s main themes is the dangers of being involved in the quest for logic. Those who are involved in this pursuit are obviously deep thinkers who question “even what every child knows.” This different view of the world and constant questioning can lead to madness. Cantor is one such victim. He is depicted in a, presumably mental hospital with the frames featuring dark colours and strong contrast creating a sense of gloom. The rain during the scene also foreshadows Cantor’s madness as it represents the countless thoughts pounding constantly in his brain. Cantor’s work with infinity, something “you cannot count” seems to be the direct cause of his mental state, as his brain cannot cope with trying to use logic to explain everything about such a complicated subject. Frege is similarly damaged. His “rigour” and intense constant concentration on logic leads him to believe that Jews are “undermining the nation’s foundations.” The colouring of the frames is also very dark. Moreover, the fact that the window frames of his study are highlighted suggests he is imprisoned by his own obsession. The large bold font in phrases such as “THE DANGER IS TOO GREAT!” and “THE JEWISH ONE OF COURSE!!!” as he frowns angrily through gritted teeth and thumps the desk, seems to suggest that he has lost his senses and that his obsession is totally illogical. He is also depicted as obsessed by his wife, as shown by the fact that he is scribbling busily and surrounded by piles of paper. Looking Russell observes “logic is a tool…you can use it to cut bread with – or kill” it is clear that the novel is suggesting that mentally disturbed academics can actually be dangerous for society as a whole, since Frege seems to be supporting the eventual genocide of Jews in the Holocaust. In this way, Logicomix shows the dangers of pursuing logic for society as a whole.

There also seems to be dangers in becoming so obsessed with pursuing logic that relationships suffer. In order to achieve goals, hard work is necessary, but people must also face competition and devastating failures. During Russell’s career, he is constantly aware of competitors. When he attends a talk in Paris with “everybody who was anybody in mathematics” his entire competition is laid out in front of him, placing him under intense pressure. At this point, he feels it is necessary to work harder as he sets out with “fiery, though rather misjudged, optimism, to write” a book following his return from Paris. The detrimental effects of pursuing logic can be clearly seen when Russell decides to write the “Principia Mathematica” with Alfred Whitehead. Believing that “hard work was all” that was needed, they take “ten years to complete the first three volumes.” They even live together “to gain more time for work.” Yet, despite all these efforts, their work is a failure. The publishers could not “find a single reader to evaluate the manuscript” and leaves the two with an ultimatum to either publish if they “pay for the printing” or not publish. The rain and grey colour of the outside world represents the disappointment and sadness of the two men which the artists also show through their slouched bodies with shabby clothes, silence and emotionless faces. Russell’s time and effort into building “foundations for logic” is also challenged and dismantled by his student, Wittgenstein who writes a book contradicting his teacher. This event leaves Russell terrified at the possibility of “total annihilation of his life’s work” as Wittgenstein’s work gains influence. Wittgenstein’s decimation of Russell’s work echoes the way Russell himself took apart Cantor’s set theory with one paradox showing that however successful an academic is, he can still be challenged. Thus, Logicomix warns about the hard work and commitment required to work towards an intangible result, and the failures along the way.

Additionally, Doxiadis and Papadimitriou suggest that chasing logic obsessively can destroy relationships. When men devote their every living moment to their quests, they inevitably have no time for their wives. Women are depicted as secondary to their husbands, with no real input or thoughts of their own. They are just left alone, and seemingly regarded as a mere inconvenience. Frau Frege is clearly frustrated with her situation as seen by her tired facial expressions and having to tell Frege when he has enough flowers, living with a man whose rigour and absent-mindedness strains their relationship. A concerned Alys witnesses Frege’s eccentricity and later remarks that she “wouldn’t want to be the great man’s wife.” Although Frege’s marriage stays intact the same cannot be said for the Russells. His decision to “uncover the treasures of logic came at a price.” Russell’s obsession with logic has visible impacts on his relationship with Alys. One such occasion is when she kindly asks Russell if he would “require anything” and he snaps back with “peace from further interruptions.” She is diminished in the background and seen with back turned symbolising how unimportant she has become to her husband. When the stress finally boils over at Whitehead’s house, Russell releases his rage against the long-suffering Alys, insulting her as “a total ass” and claiming that he is “sick and tired” of her. The red walls in this scene represent Russell’s anger and the abruptness of the fight that separates the two forever. After this divorce, his marriage to Dora also fails as he moves “out of Beacon Hill and his marriage with Dora.” A result of a fight which was because of his obsession with trying to give his “own children an ideal education” and selfishness seen when he doesn’t care about his baby’s crying and leaves Dora to check.He later concedes that his quest deprived his children of both “home and parents.” By focusing on these marriages Logicomix highlights the danger that relationships face when a man commits to logic.

On the other hand, the text also suggests that minds can never stop enquiring and the pursuit of logic can achieve fame and satisfaction. Even as a child Russell has an inquisitive mind. From just one “unearthly moan” Russell’s “eagerness to know” drives him to investigate. This curiosity extends into his adolescence as he challenges a professor at Cambridge University on the definition of “infinitesimal”. His “thirst for knowledge did not diminish” and is one of the main driving factors in his quest. Russell’s discovery of a paradox existing in the idea of sets is portrayed in five frames showing his deep thoughts and shock when he makes the discovery which “made him an overnight celebrity mathematical circles.” The wall in the background changes in turn with his surprise showing his sense of satisfaction in the discovery. His holiday in Wales shows what the pursuit of reason gives him. Rather than be worried about his dark past, he is ready to battle against his “old enemy irrationality” and pursue the “natural harmony of Reason.” This section of the novel is filled with greenery, flowers and birds and an entire page devoted to Russell standing arms outstretched and shouting at the beauty. He describes himself “strong enough to cry out” as he could he could finally “turn [his] back on [his] dark legacy. Here the authors show that the pursuit of reason allows Russell to move forward in life. Furthermore, despite his failures he becomes a highly respected “philosopher, mathematician and above all, great logician.” The audience’s clapping indicates how respected he is, something he may not have achieved had he not pursued his quest. Therefore, the novel suggests that although that pursuing logic can have rewards.

Clearly, Logicomix offers a variety of messages about the effects of pursuing logic. Extensive thinking can lead to madness, no guarantee of results from hard work and difficulty in maintaining a close relationship. Despite the dangers, fame and satisfaction can be gained and minds cannot stop enquiring. The dangers of pursuing logic in a chaotic world is clear but there are benefits which come out of the inevitable chase.


Spinning, A Short Story by Alex Joshi

The eyes of the frog bore into the giraffe as the fairy floss melted on it’s tongue. The humans were nearby.
“Move.” Hissed the frog. “Move!”
The frog hopped further down the dark alleyway, his giraffe fellow following behind, his long pace easily keeping up with the frog’s comparatively short hops. They were almost out of the zoo, passing by the humans as they made their escape.
The plan was devious, and the two animals executing it were infinitely more so. The frog came from a military background, serving as a commando in the SAS before being kicked out for bad discipline and the giraffe was part of the Italian Mafia.
The giraffe ducked his head as the two escapees exited the zoo grounds, making way into the dark city, into the cover of the night. Behind them, sirens wailed, and the frog grinned.
“Almost there. The monkey should be around the corner.” He said, smiling. The giraffe said nothing, but smiled.
The monkey was another escapee of the zoo, being one of the greatest criminal masterminds the decade had seen, and had a speciality in stealing cars, and, after he was done with them, disposing of them discreetly.
“Hey! There they are!” A zookeeper made his way around the corner, catching sight of the two fleeing animals.
“Damn it! If you hadn’t insisted to get that fairy floss, we would be out and away by now!” The frog yelled angrily, picking up his pace.
The giraffe said nothing, silently keeping his stride.
“Left!” The frog said, turning down into a dark alleyway. Before them, a van opened it’s doors.
“What took you so long?” The monkey said, barely concealing his anger. “The rendezvous was ten minutes ago! Giraffe, you may need to duck your head.
The frog got into the passenger seat and the giraffe clumsily folded himself into the van, which, as big as it was, was not large enough to hold him.
“We-” The frog started, but the giraffe stuck his head through and prodded him angrily. “We ran into some zookeepers. Had to take a slightly different route.”
“Right.” The monkey said, and started the car, moving out onto open road. “Did they see you?”
“Yes.” The frog answered.
“Damn!” The monkey swerved past a small pink volkswagen beetle. “I suppose your delay had an affect on that? If in doubt, stick to the plan!”
“That was not going to work!” The frog replied angrily.
“You could have compromised the entire operation!” The monkey glared at the frog, then at the giraffe. “Is that fairy floss? I swear, if you nearly compromised the operation, for fairy floss, I will-,”
“What would you do? Throw a banana at us?” The frog challenged.
“Shut up!” The monkey shouted.
The car passed in silence for a few moments as the three criminals passed a police car. The monkey floored the accelerator and the car jumped forward.
“Slow down!” The frog said. “The last thing we need is to get pulled over for speeding.”
The monkey slowed down, but didn’t say anything. The road opened up to a freeway and they were able to go a little faster. If only they could get across the bridge- Then they would be impossible to catch in the many alleyways.
Suddenly a police car roared past, and it swerved out in front of them, attempting to create a roadblock. The monkey swerved as fast as he could in the van, but he clipped the very tail of the car and went spinning, crashing onto the other side of the road, which had suddenly opened it’s walls up to the bridge. A second police car came up alongside the van and was pushing against the van’s side, pushing it onto the lanes going the other direction. A car was coming on the rightmost lane, and it swerved just too late, smashing into the police car at high speed and knocking the van into another spin. The rear wheels of the van crashed through the barrier separating the bridge from open space. The van stopped for a moment, hanging over the abyss, but luckily the van was front wheel drive and it jumped forward, further down the bridge, narrowly missing another car.
Another full roadblock had formed, and the monkey was faced with the decision to either ram the road block, or stop and give up.
“Ram it, you idiot!” The frog yelled.
The monkey complied and crashed the van through the small gap between two police cars, sending them spinning and letting the van free.
The criminals roared onto the open street, almost free.
“We’re leaking fuel.” The monkey noticed. “We’ll have to run.”
“Or steal another car.” The frog said.
“What about Giraffe?” The monkey said. “Stop being so selfish.”
“True. True. We could steal some fuel.” The frog said.
“Good idea. Then it will just run straight out.” The monkey replied.
“Right.” The frog said. “So, just run? You Ok with that, giraffe?” He turned in his seat and looked at the giraffe, who nodded awkwardly.
“Ok. Just stop when you need to.” The frog said, twitching his toes.
Suddenly a police car ran straight across the crossing and the van crashed straight into it, stopping dead.
“Run. Run now!” The monkey yelled, getting out of the van.
The frog kicked open the passenger door, and the giraffe kicked down the back doors. They both began to run after the monkey, running as hard as they could.
The frog slid down a storm drain, disappearing out of sight, where none dared follow. The giraffe had caught up with the monkey, who used the few seconds after he rounded a corner, being out of sight of the police and climbed up a tree.
For the giraffe, there was nowhere to hide, but everywhere to run. However, as fast as he was, the giraffe wasn’t fast enough to outpace cars, so he slid down a skinny alleyway where no car could follow. He turned down into a small house and hid himself there, out of sight.
“MUM! Why is there an actual giraffe in our house!?” A little girl screamed in excitement. “Canwekeepitcanwekeepitpleaseplease!?”
The End

Boxing Should be Banned

Boxing has been a sport even since the ancient Olympics. However, boxing directly promotes sexism and is the only sport which promotes violence and thus with one of the highest death rates. This sport is detrimental to the participants, the families and modern society. Boxing should be permanently banned as it is no longer the era of the Ancient Greeks where physical prowess is admired.

The sport of boxing is a direct promotion of sexism; a notion which was highly prominent in the time of the sport’s origin of the ancient Olympics. Boxing is among the most sexist sports which are legal and publically broadcasted. It is a sport which claims that women spectators are attracted to the men showing off their physicality. This stereotype may have been accurate in the sport’s invention; ancient Romans with their colosseums. It is now the twenty-first century and modern day women who are much better educated would want to not be involved with those who take part in the barbaric sport. This so called sport has no place in modern society and should be banned.

Boxing promotes and requires one side to deliberately attack and brutally maim the opposition. Boxing is the single sport where two people fight in a ring and are paid money for how much they can maim and knock their opponent out unconscious. Unlike other sports such as soccer where a red card may be given and the player suspended for violence; boxers are paid even more for more brutal acts of violence and knocking out the other person. Australian society is trying to remove violence and if they hope to succeed paying people to attack each other needs to be banned.

With a consistently high mortality rate boxing rips many families apart. Every time a boxer steps into a ring he will exit with brain damage. Every hit taken to the head damages the brain slightly and this damage builds up until the effects are felt suddenly. Injuries can also occur instantly; one example is the “knockout punch” which is the goal of the sport. This is a hit that aims to knock the other competitor unconscious. Studies have shown that boxing leads to long term brain damage and can increase risk of illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.  In another study there were three hundred and thirty nine mortalities between 1950 and 2007. This number is only the deaths of professional boxers and does not count the grief of their families. Banning this brutal sport would equal the end of all the needless suffering and death.

Although the disadvantages of boxing are obvious it may be argued that boxing is an honoured and ancient sport. Many argue that boxing was even an Olympic sport when the Olympics first stared in ancient Greece. However, as stated before boxing was created by ancient Romans who used slaves as boxers and masses of people watched the slaves fight for entertainment. Boxing is merely reminding the world of the now illegal practise of slaving. In ancient Greece many wars were occurring and times were unstable. Now is an age of prosperity and there is no need to prove physical prowess through being paid to attack another person in a ring. It is no longer ancient Greece where boxing was widely practised. Boxing needs to be banned in our sophisticated society.

Any sport which is a direct promotion of sexism and unnecessary violence has been banned or simply does not exist other than boxing. Boxing is the cause of hundreds of deaths annually and although was once honoured in ancient Greece; it is the twenty-first century and it is time for this barbaric sport to be banned in our contemporary society.

A series of letters between Elia Kazan and William Tennessee – Jason Li 10L

Elia Kazan
New York
October 19, 1950

William Tennessee
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY

Dear William Tennessee,

I just wanted to thank you for granting me permission to adapt your masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire into film. I have decided to cast the original cast of the play for my film except I will replace Jessica Tandy with Vivien Leigh for Blanche Dubois. I think she will be more suited for the role owing to her acting experience.

I am writing to inform you on the changes to the original script I am forced to make. As you may know the Hays Code confines what I am allowed to show on film so several changes will have to be made. The most obvious changes that will have to be made are Allan’s mental state, the ending and the rape of Blanche.

My film will have Stella leave Stanley and never return as punishment for Stanley’s actions which should be accepted by the Christian community. Allan will no longer be what he is in your play but Vivien will say that she found him disgusting because he wrote poems and causing his suicide. Blanche will also never be raped by Stanley but he will still have her sent to a mental institution.

I regret having to make these changes to the script but they are necessary. Without them the movie will never be approved and the Catholic Legion of Decency would definitely condemn the film and I may lose money.

Yours Sincerely,
Elia Kazan

Tennessee Williams
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY
October 26, 1950

Elia Kazan
New York

Dear Elia Kazan,

Thank you for informing me about the changes you intend to make to my original play. The changes you propose are
absurd. None of your changes can make it into your film. I wrote this play to raise questions about society and should have a large impact. It can’t be reduced to a soap opera.

Stella returning to Stanley even after he rapes and has Blanche sent to a mental institution is meant to highlight her dependence on him. This is intended to ask the audience if women in our society really depend on the men and also raise awareness to unpunished crime. Your proposal to make Stella leave Stanley forever in the film is out of the question. An ending like that would render the story meaningless. I am also aware that Allan may not be accepted by the public because of his desires but to have him suicide for writing poems is nonsense. What could Blanche find disgusting about poetry? If anything she would be impressed.

A Streetcar Named Desire cannot have a different storyline and Blanche being raped is especially important. It is one of the events in the play that absolutely has to happen for the story to make any sense. I wanted to reveal that the forces behind our society are complicated and it is frightening how much the women seem to depend on the men. It seems as if what motivates our society is money or sexual satisfaction when it should be compassion or something less selfish. I spent countless hours writing a play with deep concepts and you want to reduce it to a something without any meaning?

Mr. Kazan my play cannot possibly have a different narrative. I implore you, create a film based on my original play and give audiences a strong message. Don’t reduce my play to just another movie held back by production codes and the audiences.

Yours Sincerely,
William Tennessee

Elia Kazan
New York
February 12, 1951

William Tennessee
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY

Dear William Tennessee,

Thank you for your previous letter. I read it before filming the movie and I am sorry but I could not film the original script. Your suggestion that I do not change anything would have caused me to lose my career and likely be in debt for the rest of my life.

The film is now in the editing process and I have gone ahead with Stella leaving her husband forever and not mentioning Allan true nature but rather have Blanche find him disgusting for writing poems. You may be glad to hear that I have not removed the rape of Blanche but it will be suggested with Stanley carrying her off into another room.

I hope that you understand that I had no choice other than to go ahead with the changes. If I had filmed your original play the Legion of Decency would definitely give it a ‘C’ rating so no Christian will ever watch the film. Then how would I have fed my children let alone continue making films if I go bankrupt.

Yours Sincerely,
Elia Kazan

The Legion of Decency Must Go- Jason Li 10L

An opinion piece for the New York Times set in 1951 and shortly after the release of A Streetcar Named Desire.

SEP. 27. 1951

The film adaptation of William Tennessee’s A Streetcar Named Desire has recently come out and is nothing short of disappointing. Anybody who has ever seen William Tennessee’s play will notice differences between the two versions. I too along with almost everybody in the theatre was surprised at how much was changed. As a film director it was glaringly obvious as to how the film was heavily cut. Dialogue felt out of place and it didn’t even feel like the same play. Censorship is dangerous and can destroy creativity and art.

The censorship of A Streetcar Named Desire was obviously due to The Catholic Legion of Decency. People go unpunished for crime all the time and yet The Catholic Legion of Decency attempts to censor films which go against their own narrow beliefs such as unpunished crime and threaten movie producers with condemnation of their films. Not only is censorship unnecessary it is only used for personal gain and is highly exploitable. The Catholic Legion of Decency believe that many great films such as The Dolly Sisters, West of the Divide and now A Streetcar Named Desire are unacceptable  and are either condemned or forced to make heavy cuts.

The Hays Code and Catholic Legion of Decency forced A Streetcar Named Desire into completely changing the ending and cutting out many lines of dialogue. This destroyed all the impact and creative ideas of the original play. Instead of Stella returning to her husband Stanley and raising questions about if we are so dependent on males in our society Stella leaves him never to return and the ending becomes cliché and ordinary. Music played when Stella walks down a staircase was also changed from sensuous to mournful. This is a shocking change as the meaning of the scene becomes completely different. Stella being portrayed as strongly attracted to Stanley in the original now makes her appear sad which is wrong. Instead of respecting the creative thoughts, ideas and music behind the original play they paid no respect to the creator’s thoughts and simply forced producers to censor the film heavily against their free will; something that Christians believe to be of utmost importance. I wonder why their God does not interfere with a criminal’s free will but can’t allow film directors to film what they want.

Censorship is another way for people such as the Catholic Legion of Decency to achieve their goals of spreading their beliefs. Much of the censorship of A Streetcar Named Desire was because of contradictions between themes of the play and Christian beliefs. They foolishly believe that unpunished crimes are unacceptable disregarding the fact that these are present in our everyday lives. Much like in many totalitarian regimes the Catholics are using the method of censoring texts and films in an attempt to control what we think. By burning books in Hitler’s Nazi Germany the public were only able to access a limited amount of information. This is a repeat of the same situation. By censoring what they disapprove of the public can slowly be turned to believe their gospel.

The films that we make are being torn apart by people who know nothing of film. Are we really going to sit back, relax and let our precious work be destroyed? Censorship can remove all meaning from our films and we are allowing it.  We are not prisoners and this is not our imprisonment. We are the directors and this is our freedom. The Legion of Decency does not control what we film. We control what we film. We can’t allow the Legion of Decency to sit back and command us. The Legion of Decency must go.

-Jason Li

A Poison Tree by William Blake written analysis

This a short written analysis of “A Poison Tree”

I would like some feedback before the 12th of June (this Friday) which is when my english exam is on.

Thanks, Jason Li 10L

“A Poison Tree” by William Blake is a relatively short but interesting poem. The poem is the narrator telling the story of two scenarios. The first and also shorter scenario is the narrator being angry with his friend and telling the friend about the anger which has no consequences. The second scenario is the narrator being angry with his enemy. He doesn’t tell the anger and it grows stronger. The narrator’s foe is eventually poisoned and killed by an apple that the tree bore. This explains the satisfied tone of the poem as it written in the past tense. By the end of the poem his revenge is complete so he is satisfied.

The narrator has already experienced both scenarios and the purpose of the poem is to teach others and for them to not repeat the same mistake. This can be seen clearly through the title of the poem. The use of the word “A” instead of “The” is significant. The tree can only refer to one tree and cannot be any other tree but a tree can be any tree. This is to imply that what happened to the narrator can happen to anybody and is not just his own experience.

The poem has quite a simple structure. The poem is comprised of four quatrains each one with the rhyme scheme of AABB. This means that for each stanza the first two lines rhyme and the last two lines rhyme. This links up the two lines and better expresses the meaning. The story of the narrator is also told mainly in two line blocks such as the first two; “I was angry with my friend; / I told my wrath, my wrath did end.” The second line explains the first and is rhymed. The poem is also written in iambic tetrameter which means that each line has four feet of an unstressed and stressed syllable making eight syllables in total (4 stressed and 4 unstressed). An example would be the second line;

“I told my wrath, my wrath did end” As shown, every second syllable is stressed which adds a certain flow to it and is easier to read and understand.

The most notable techniques used are metaphors and personification. The poison tree is the central metaphor as it is not actually referring to a tree but the narrator’s anger which can “grow day and night”. This is a personification as although a tree can grow anger cannot. This just refers to the narrator’s anger becoming stronger. This metaphor continues throughout the entire poem and there are many references to it such as the narrator watering the tree in fears. A tree can be “waterd” to help it grow but this refers to the reader helping his fear to grow stronger.

William Blake has effectively used the central metaphor of a tree being his anger for an enemy to convey his past experiences. Through this poem he warns us about keeping a grudge.

“The women in Macbeth have more than a subsidiary role to play. They are pivotal to the whole action of the play.” Discuss.

Elitism, racism and sexism have always existed especially in Elizabethan times. Despite this, Shakespeare defies this and empowers the women in his Elizabethan tragedy Macbeth.  The women in Macbeth namely the Three Witches and Lady Macbeth are pivotal to the entire action of the play. This is showed by their influence on Macbeth; transforming a man of integrity and loyalty into a traitor with an uncontrollable lust for power.

The Three Witches are not merely a few “weird sisters” but are the puppeteers manipulating the puppet. Although at first it may seem like the Three Witches have a small part to play they are crucial to the entire action of the play. The Three Witches are often referred to as “hags” or “weird sisters” which places them as with supernatural powers that are cannot be understood by others. On their first encounter with Macbeth the Witches hail “thane of Glamis” and “thane of Cawdor” before declaring “thou shalt be king hereafter!” This foreshadowing plants the seed of evil in his mind beginning Macbeth’s downfall. The witches know of and are exploiting Macbeth’s ambition leading him to murder the King and completing their prophecy. The Three Witches further continue to play with Macbeth’s mind with their second encounter. Chanting and stirring their broth Macbeth is informed that “none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth.” This ambiguous riddle makes Macbeth feel like he can “never vanquished” causing his ambition to run rampant sealing his doom. The Witches lead him to actions he wouldn’t have otherwise committed such as murdering Macduff’s family and causing Macduff to take back the throne. The Three Witches with their equivocal expressions mislead Macbeth which subsequently alters the entire action of the play. They might have only a few scenes in the play but it is enough for the Three Witches to be able to alter the entire outcome.

Shakespeare presents another female character who dominates the action of the narrative. Although may seem like Macbeth is in control of his own life but it is Lady Macbeth who is really in power. The Witches planted the seed of evil but Lady Macbeth tends to it and helps it manifest. Upon hearing the Witches’ prophecy Macbeth decides to let events happen “without my stir”. He has decided to let “chance” play out instead of taking action himself. Shakespeare contrasts this idea of fate with Lady Macbeth who has already seen the benefits and riches of becoming queen and orders Macbeth to fight to fulfil the Witches’ prediction. Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under’t.” Shakespeare uses this notion of appearance versus reality in order to bring out a darker side of Macbeth comparing him to a serpent. Furthermore, when Macbeth faced a moral dilemma and wanted to “proceed no further in this business” Lady Macbeth takes action again accusing her husband of cowardice and questioning her manhood. She hastily asks if “art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour.”  This directly resulted in Macbeth committing high treason; an act he would have never otherwise considered. Lady Macbeth further reinforces her role in the murder of Duncan by stating to her husband that her “hands are of your colour.” This metaphor shows just how guilty she is even though she did not carry out the act. Lady Macbeth has much more than a subsidiary role to play. She manipulates her husband to achieve her goals.

Despite how the women influence Macbeth’s actions it may be argued that his ultimate downfall is due to his own character. Following Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy Macbeth has one fatal flaw; Ambition which allows the women to manipulate him. His ambition eventually grows so much that he wishes to secure the throne and so that nobody can challenge him. Although Macbeth does have “vaulting ambition” without the women in the play it would never have grown strong enough to overthrow the king. The Witches plant the idea of becoming king helping the idea to grow stronger and it is Lady Macbeth who confirms Macbeth’s fate. Macbeth may be ambitious but his wife is even more ambitions. This ambition is shown as she plans to convince Macbeth to murder Duncan by “pouring my spirits in thine ear”. This is another metaphor for her empowering Macbeth with the ability to murder the King.

The Three Witches cause Macbeth to have the idea of becoming king and the illusion of being invincible. This allows Lady Macbeth to manipulate easily manipulate one of the King’s bravest and most loyal soldiers to commit high treason against him. Therefore; although Macbeth has much ambition the Three Witches exploit his weakness to cause his downfall and Lady Macbeth has even more than her husband. The women in Macbeth appear to have a subsidiary role but are much more. They are pivotal to the entire action of the Elizabethan Tragedy.

-Jason Li 10L

A descriptive piece I wrote during my trip to China

Occasionally we would pass a plane, stationary in the air; frozen, snagged in the thick smog; as if a single giant invisible thread was affixed to the centre, suspended; an oafish father dangles a toy in front of his child’s face. The road was never still; cars constantly change lanes like finicky toddlers unsatisfied with their positions. Below, a man stands under a door frame, perfectly still, staring at the ground. Lines and lines of trees with half painted trunks pass by: white from halfway down; a collection of embarrassingly tanned tourists. In the distance grey shapes circle each other. A glimmering sea assaults the eyes; only after the light fades can you see that it’s a million cars parked across the dirt and sand. Jagged teeth on cranes and towers smile at us. How beautiful does that pale white smoke billow and expand and grow and dissipate into clouds that fade into wisps, then nothing. Twins and triplets and quadruplets of buildings blend into one. Misshapen roads crafted apart from one another form an ugly apparition in the distance: a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces are forced together stretched from one side of the horizon to the other, suspended above their brothers by blocks upon blocks of concrete and cement. From afar, those cranes perched atop skyscrapers are enormous compass needles. Herds of mechanical leviathans, industrial beasts, huge great stinking creatures meander, tilt, topple, stumble, stomp: cast-iron titans bellow, fuming with smoke as their rivets throb. The alphas have pointed horns with great spires protruding out; a sharp and angry finger pointed towards the heavens: an accusing member at the ones who have forgotten them. A sign wobbles below a train station ceiling, its sides rusted and font outdated. Shadows form triangles from squares.

A science fiction story – Jason Li 9J

This is a science fiction story I wrote some time back.

The cold night air flew through the park, brushing past leaves and stung on my exposed face. The flickering of the light was the only thing that broke the eerie silence of the night as I sat on the bench staring into darkness. The trees slowly swayed in the night air as If they were hypnotised. I watched dust on the path swirl around. I turned to my right, half expecting my old friend to be there but he was not. All that my my gaze was the top of a bin and nothing else. I wearily sighed as I remembered how cheerful these nights once were; now even he was gone.

A crack brought back my senses. I looked up to see the colossal but hundreds of year old tree behind me was collapsing. I scrambled to get out of the way but I couldn’t. My muscles froze up. My lips felt dry and as I opened them to scream, no sound escaped my mouth. I couldn’t move. I stood there, staring at the face of death and closed my eyes as the tree When i regained consciousness the last thing i remembered was the pain which was now strangely gone. Was I alive or was I dead I asked myself when all my other senses flooded in. I realised in was in a bed.

What was this place?

I opened my eyes slowly to see a bright light. The room i was in was illuminated by an unknown light source. The walls which were as white fresh snow in sunshine came together with perfect precision at the corners and edges. Sitting up, I realised the room was unnaturally quiet. A loud hissing noise caught my attention and as I turned around I noticed a door which i didn’t even know was there opened. Stepping outside, I saw a cavernous round room with many other rooms like mine.

A window caught my eye and I rushed to it. Outside was a city. A city made entirely from a white material. The city stretched beyond the horizon, I could see a complex grey road system connect the superstructures. The city rose high above the cloud layer and into the burgundy sky which made the white walls glow a gentle shade of the oddly coloured sky. The city seemed to almost follow a template. The same layout repeated over and over again but despite the beauty. Every road was empty, not a single person. There were no visible life forms.

I sat down on another white bench pondering. The city was a nut with only its shell. Devoid of life but everything intact.  I entered another corridor and followed it through to a much larger structure. The building was much larger than the one I had first stumbled into. This one rose high into the sky and the roof was closed in a dome, perfectly round and decorated with various styles of painting and gemstones. The entire dome seemed to radiate with colour which was a nice change rather than the monochromatic tone of everything else.   I noticed a few humans chatting to each other. Excited, I ran up to one greeting them and introducing myself.

“Finally, some humans!” I said to them

“Hello there. Why do you seem so surprised to see us?” One of them said

“I haven’t seen a single soul for ages and I don’t know why there aren’t much people in the streets”

“Oh, they’ve all gone to see a spectacular supernova. It is not far from here, just a few light years. They say another like it won’t happen for a long time. We stayed behind because we don’t like travelling on spaceships.” He explained. “The city is more densely populated near the centre. You can come with us if you want.”

“Am I dead?” I asked.

“Of course not!”

“Then where is this? Where am I?”

“Earth, 3045.”