The Mad Experiment

Overall, I have to say I’m not terribly surprised. Some virtues were easy like loyalty, chastity, excellence, frugality, etc. By far, industry was the hardest for me, likely because there are some days where I’ve finished all work I am aware of and don’t really have anything of great import to spend my time on. I am a bit skeptical of the results though. I find this experiment to be quite flawed, however. It rests solely on certain components such as interpretation, circumstance, and opportunity.

Interpretation is how each individual perceives and defines these different traits based on their unique morals and life experiences. Because of this, the results have a certain margin instead of a clearcut defined number. For example, if I interpret temperance to only apply to food and drink, I would have fewer mistakes than if I interpreted it to apply to more aspects of life such as having a balanced schedule.

Circumstance means having the appropriate tools and environment to be able to accomplish a specific task. If one is lacking any of these, the task can never be completed just based on the environment. For instance, if someone does not have the means to buy unnecessary items, then it is near impossible to violate frugality. In this case, it doesn’t matter what the person would have intended to do, should they have had the appropriate circumstances. A great deal of this experiment relies on the environment being influential in one way or another when really the focus should be on the character of the person and what they would do in a neutral environment.

Opportunity means having the means of being able to do a certain action. Here it is important because we cannot do something wrong if we don’t have the opportunity to do it at all. The best example in the context of this experiment is frugality. If I had the money to be able to buy something, but I was not able to go to the store, then I would not have the opportunity to violate or uphold the virtue in question.

While I understand we can never perfect anything, I think that we should not place too much stock in the sheer number of infractions and focus more on the natural inclination and taming it.


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Poetry still?

My first impression of The Dodo’s Conundrum was that the author was a bit frustrating, mainly for the allusions no one outside of teachers would actually see. I’m really glad we had footnotes on those allusions because I can guarantee I would not have seen half of them. The only ones I could see being understood by a general audience is the title and mermaids and sirens. Just about anybody knows about the differences between a mermaid and a siren and their roles in different myths. And “The Dodo’s Conundrum”, ok, as long as you know what conundrum means and the most famous thing about the dodo bird, the reader could in theory piece that one together. But the other ones, who is going to recognize those? Isn’t the point of an allusion for the reader’s to recognize the allusion and put it together with the poem?

In theme, I have figured it to be along the lines of “A perfect world is built on order, the real world is built on chaos”. Everything from the structure to the diction in this poem seems to point that direction.

Some of the allusions, I would like more clarification on why the prompt the theme. And why the author would choose to use a false quote from Thoreau because that seems a bit odd to me.

I feel like the Sound and Sense questions were easier this time due to practice. There are some that are still tricky, such as overstatement and understatement, paradox, occasion, irony, and metonymy. Because we haven’t really seen any poems with most of these specific things yet, I am worried that I will be unprepared should we be tested on a poem containing these.

Since writing poetry, I feel that I have gained a better understanding of the difficulty poetry can present. I also think I have a new appreciation for what goes into poetry. In this poem, I was especially impressed by the use of alternating free verse and ballad and I think it was a well-thought decision because it gives the poem more depth and propels the theme.

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