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Tutor profile: Christian P.

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Christian P.
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Subject: Writing

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Question:

In the structure and style of the confessional, write briefly on your relationship to writing (i.e., what it means to you, the role it plays in your life, etc.). Following the classic confessionals, do not shy away from dramatic and passional language (after all, a confession bares the messy inner).

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Christian P.
Answer:

My experience, my relationship with writing has been one intrinsically correlated to my psychological self-awareness, fears and desires. It remains in continual dialogue with my transitory literary fetishes and stylistic idols. Bashfulness and turgid grasping grapple in my mind while composing the language. Simply: writing is a blank plane for me to throw my earnest yet, pretentious ideas, bold yet, brash passions and verbiage however, a place where the invisible audience is always palpably present. Stemming from my love of reading from an early age there is a predicated love of writing, creation through the utilization of prose and yet, the inevitable evolution from love of reading to the love of challenging literature establishes a high standard that self-percipience incessantly points out is failing to be reached. My life, from a young age, has been doused in reading. I was homeschooled all the way up through high school and my curriculum was classical in its supreme focus on literature and writing. This environment fostered in me a relishing of the freedom endowed from a creative unfettered space to contend and analyze my mind as manifested in language on the page. Writing makes clear ideas that are unclear or disorganized in my head. While typing I can make sense of my thought processes and simultaneously new discoveries are made in a self-proliferated loop. Growing up, as with most children, I possessed an alive, kinetic imagination. My father brought me up on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings and this passion for Jedi and knights ran rampant in my backyard lightsaber duels and in my “book” I was writing about dragon-riding, ninja-knights. This in turn blossomed as school began assigning essays and I realized that writing could be used to make statements, claims and ask questions. From there, the merging of story and theme to assert towards these same statements, claims and questions became the next logical step. It was only a matter of time before it became clear to me that every good essay contains a story and every good story is an essay. My writing, whether academic or not, began to reflect this discovery and to mirror the writers I idolized as a young teen who I felt accomplished this, as I tried to mimic their techniques and styles. However, this ultimately, only sets one up for failure. In equal proportion to the increasing depth of my love for reading so developed the sophistication of that writing. I could learn to replicate the composition of young adult fiction, but as my tastes ventured towards the greats of literature, the messianic patrons of literary achievement like Augustine, Joyce, Tolstoy, Cervantes, Kierkegaard and the like. Writing with prose as beautiful as Nabokov’s, as scholastic as Foster Wallace’s, or as hilarious and witty as Wilde’s. These are fairly undisputed zeniths of their respective fields and when they become one’s literary heroes it is clearly impossible to reach such levels. Even if one establishes oneself as an “all-time great” one can never truly be the writer dreamed of that has been placed on a pedestal. This writer is the conceptual perfect writer. So, in my writing the bar has been raised and my open space has become a dangerous place where my audience in my head been raised to the intelligence of those writers I admire. They do not fall for cheats or tricks and they are not duped by flowery wordage and structure. In short, I am painfully aware that I would see through my own writing as a reader, to the lack of inspiration or value. With this consciousness derives a degree of feeling threatened and embarrassed. Thus, writing ceases to be a purely expansive escape and outlet rather, a synchronous, dangerous game of insecurity. What is my relationship/experience with writing? As with any meaningful partnership, it is complicated. Growing out of literature’s hold on a young boy’s inspiration, birth was made to unobstructed creation. I learned to love writing’s freedom and power and all the implications of this. However, there was a bitter-sweet storm on the horizon in the form of timeless, opuses of human artistry that move and enrichen life but mock ineffectual artistic attempt. Their existence raising the bar of “exceptional” to heavenly heights. Yet, for all these abstract ponderings and dramatic visualizations the struggle is, as admitted in my opening line, psychological. It’s an in inner struggle between the castle that is my desires, ambitions and the fears swimming in the moat between myself and that sanctuary. Simply, I am scared that I might look pretentious, sensationalist, sappy or frankly, stupid in my earnest attempts to develop in skill to the point of my eidolons. When I sit down to write I am excited and nervous. However, the proverbs ring true and it is better to try and to fail then to never have tried at all. This being my foundation in life and in writing, pardon me for my attempt at greatness.

Subject: Philosophy

TutorMe
Question:

Construct an introduction for essay answering the question: How might one consider Matthew Arnold a 'prophet of culture'?

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Christian P.
Answer:

The nineteenth century, English economist and utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick, a contemporary of Matthew Arnold, declared him the “Prophet of Culture” (Connell 274). The title is apt in all of ‘prophet’s senses. Arnold fits the bill in the same way that John the Baptist of the New Testament did for Christianity. He not only is a representative and spokesperson of his cause, declaring its truths to the masses and proclaiming his revolution but also in the sense of prognosticator. Like the biblical herald in spiritual matters, the Victorian auspex portends a shift in the societal and cultural milieu. Matthew Arnold even prophesizes culture (through education) as the saving grace of English civilization just as the hermit professed the birth of Israel’s savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Through such a role, Arnold manages to have a wide-reaching influence spanning multiple fields of study. Unlike John the Baptist, Arnold’s focus, culture is hugely broad and granted him free reign to approach a variety of intellectual discussions. Fraser Neiman in his essay, “A Reader’s Guide to Arnold” points out the range of Arnold’s endeavors calling him: …variously a poet, the private secretary to a Liberal peer, an Inspector of Schools, a commissioner in the examining of educational systems at home and on the Continent, a Professor of Poetry at Oxford, a reviewer of books for numerous periodicals, a literary critic, a critic of social, political, and religious issues, a critic of England’s relations with Italy in 1859, with Ireland in the 1880’s and an interested observer of the mental climate of the United States. (Allott 2) Yet, the scope of his pursuits does not betray a lack of a singular, cohesive worldview, rather, presents the trickle-down-effect of his dominant philosophy of how culture should work. An analysis of any subcategory of his ideology will reveal a connection that ties it in with his larger systematic understanding of culture. To determine where and how this polyphonic wall of ideologies has specifically influenced modernity is perhaps the most difficult feat facing Arnoldian historians today. To identify the nature in which such a broad (and rather ambiguous) field of speculation and criticism has played into the twenty-first century Occident is rather problematic. However, this essay will examine Matthew Arnold’s overarching cultural theory and follow the train of thought to arrive at a more specific understanding of his concepts of education and how these have influenced England and the Western world in the subsequent century and a half, showing him to be a prophet of culture and by de facto, education. By doing so one can begin to see how Arnold continually operates as the catalyst blowing open the gates to modern humanism and how society is still grappling with the consequences of Arnold’s philosophical imprint.

Subject: Film and Theater

TutorMe
Question:

Our vocabulary pertaining to auditory experience and sensation is, compared to our visual language, highly limited. To perform an effective auditory analysis of film it is necessary to get creative. Imagine that you are recalling having stood outside under a canopy listening to rainfall. Describe the sounds you heard and make reference to some sound theory literature.

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Christian P.
Answer:

My outdoor setting I imagine is just under the canopy over the back entrance of the cafeteria building at my school. Here the sound was initially both at its thinnest and thickest. For the only sound (at first) was that of rain but each individual trail of rain dropping off the drain, from a leaf, drizzling over the canopy and so on could be homed in on and addressed one-by-one for hours without ever coming close to hitting the wall of impenetrable thickness. This paradoxical nature of the soundscape created by rainfall was true in many of its qualities. It was both polyphonic, in that every rain dripping had its own voice and yet monophonic in its reducibility to a quiet roar. Different rain drops depending on what they landed on and their spatial proximity to me possessed varying levels in the hierarchy of sound. This made it difficult to comprehend the rainfall sonically all at once since the range of its sonic nature was so diverse. However, one aspect that was straightforward was its rhythm. Despite its irregularity, it was consistent. No single drainage path of the rain dripped on an exact time signature but one could also rest assured that it would drip momentarily. Taken as a whole this contributed to a rhythm of limited and steady flux that unwaveringly moved to a resolution that never came. The ramifications of this on my temporal perception were truly fascinating. In each of the locations I took notes I was fairly aware of how much time had passed in my time there. When I would take out my phone to check if my ten minutes were up, I was usually just about on the mark. Here, in the rain, I felt a hint of temporal disorientation. I was uncertain of how much time had gone by and when I checked my phone, I found that only about five minutes had gone by. Michele Chion, in his book, "Audio-Vision," delves into the multitude of ways in which sounds can temporalize an image to varying degrees and effects. In fact, he explicitly utilizes the example of water. He observes how in the film "Persona" (Ingmar Bergman, 1966) the “unequal rhythm” of water dripping, “puts the ear and attention on constant alert” (15). He goes on further to say that irregularity of such sounds can increase one’s perceived tempo of a moment. This was the dominant sonic element at this place but over time I did become attuned to the sounds of traffic and cars nearby. These provided no more than a gentle hum, and were virtually drowned out by the rain. I had thought beforehand that this location would be quiet but did not expect the rainfall to become such an emphatic presence without people or other noises to distract from it.

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