Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Some 2015 Goals

Here are some of my mostly writing-related goals for next year as well as those for this year and how I did and what I can do to do better next time. Also, my favorite books and stories of the year.

2014

  • Read 40 novels, 40 short stories
  • Write 3 drafts a book/novel, 3 short stories, 6 poems
So I did not read 40 books in 2014. I read about 24, having devoted about an hour a day to read. The problem was working and writing taking up a lot of my time - and then there's the time I spend on language learning. There are only so many hours in the day! Nevertheless, I can do much better. I will devote an hour and a twenty minutes each day, though I know now I will not have time on some days. I will have to manage my time a lot better. I did exceed, however, my short stories reading goal. I've read about 41. 

My favorite novel of 2014 is a tie between Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami and The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Both magical in their own ways. Murakami's makes me think about the inherent flaw of life, how we are all doomed to either die or, theoretically, live forever. Diaz's book is a tour de force, a wonderful love story, and, yes, I did identify a lot with Oscar.

My favorite short story this year: "Hello, Again" by Adam Johnson. I had written a similar kind of story, based on the end of the universe, read his, realized how inferior mine was in comparison, and rewrote mine, which is still inferior - but I cannot do any better! This one makes me think about the same things Murakami's book does, the dilemma: live forever or die. You can't have it both ways. And neither is completely satisfying.

Writing-wise, I wrote four drafts of my first novella, as well as one draft of a quarter of my second novel (an sf future thingie). My first novel is now essentially finished. I will write stories, then decide what to write next book-wise. I also wrote two stories and something like ten poems. I keep sending stuff out and they keep rejecting. I will keep sending stuff out.


2015

  • Read 40 novels, 40 short stories
  • Write 3 drafts a book/novel, 3 short stories, 6 poems
  • Reach level B2 in Japanese by the end of the year
Same for reading and writing next year. I think this gives me a good balance. As mentioned, I will dedicate more time to the accomplishment of these goals and believe I will be more successful than I was. I try not to set goals for things I can't control, yet I will try to get my first novel published next year. Also, these numbers are the minimum for the year I'm aiming for.

The one thing that's different is a specific goal for language learning, which I love. I'm learning about six languages (Spanish [I'm a native speaker but would like to improve], French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Hindi), plus considering others. Japanese is a language I'm taking seriously. My current level in Japanese, according to the CEFR, is about A2. I have no specific plan: like study 2 hours a day (I don't have the time). I will just study hard using as many resources as I have, which I'm already doing, but I will increase my dedication. I learn languages because it's fun to do, so it was initially difficult to set a specific goal. However, I really do want to be fluent in Japanese for the sake of travel, watching movies and shows, and my genuine interest in the culture.

I have other goals, but this is what I'm willing to share with the world. Follow the blog to find out about future writing projects, publications, reading events, and so on. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Proficiency in Languages

I love languages. Maybe too much since I spend time I should probably be spending doing other things, such as reading or writing or studying, on learning languages. I used to try very much to limit the number of languages I study. For a long time, I only studied: Spanish (I'm a native speaker but like to improve), French, and Italian. The romance languages are pretty easy (if you already know one) because they're very similar - you just don't want to confuse them together! But then I added Japanese, being a longtime fanboy of Japanese culture. (This began, I think, with video games, such as Pokemon, then developed with anime, such as Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh! I remember getting a Japanese version of Pokemon Stadium for Nintendo 64 because I couldn't wait for the American version to come out - I had to get a converter to play it - and promising myself, perplexed by all the kanji, that I would one day learn this language.) After that, motivated by the amazing Benny the Irish Polyglot, who speaks some 12 languages, which, no BS, you can verify by watching him on YouTube, I started adding just about every language I had an interest in. I have held back a little, though. As you will see in the following list, there are languages that, though I like, I know I probably will never get to use much (at least, not right now), so I don't actively study them but am considering adding some study time to them. The languages I do study, through various means, I generally study every day. So here is a list of languages, organized by my desired goal of fluency, that I speak, which I like to define as being at least at level A2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or am studying and want to be able to speak:

  1. English
  2. Spanish (C1>>C1/C2)
  3. Japanese (A2>>B2/C1)
  4. French (B2>>B2/C1)
  5. Italian (A2>>B2)
  6. Chinese (__>>B2)
  7. Hindi (__>>B2)
  8. Bengali (__>>A2/B1)
  9. Russian (__>>A2/B1)
(On the left in the parentheses, there's my current level, followed by my desired level. I'm counting English because I think one can always improve his native language, that, really, there is no end to learning a language.)

And here are the other languages I am currently considering: Albanian, Arabic, Cambodian, German, Greek, Indonesian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.


So I speak five languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese). I update my language proficiency about twice a year (January and July). I have just started to learn the last four on the list. If you like languages, you can find a few minutes every day, as I do, to study. You don't have to devote hours each day. The most important thing about learning languages, I've found, if you want to reach and maintain some level of fluency, is persistence, is that continual practice, like playing an instrument.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Approach Language Learning - 4/4

Last of four posts on language learning for free. This one on writing. Plus, a list of apps and Web sites.

Writing
Diary/Blog
Afraid people will read your diary? Write your entries in another language. Daily practice, like daily exercise, makes you stronger. I like to write a weekly language learning log on italki.com. I just go for it. No aids. People will correct me. And they're nice about it when they do. Not like on YouTube when you make a mistake.

You can also write a travel blog in your target language. Going to Spain? Document your time there  (the language difficulties your currently experiencing, your current level, the culture, the people) in a series of posts in Spanish with the translation in English (if you want to make it public and, you know, have people read it).

Typing in languages that don't use the Roman alphabet isn't as hard as it may seem. Languages like Chinese and Japanese, for example, can be typed out using the Roman alphabet (pinyin for Chinese and romaji for Japanese) and they automatically turn into Chinese or Japanese characters when you press a number or the space bar. So, if you can speak it, you can type it. On a Mac go to System Preferences, then Language and Text, and then Input Sources to set up the extra keyboard. If you're using Windows, good luck. Kidding. I believe you go to Control Panel, then your language options and then somehow you get to Input Language. When using the Cyrillic alphabet, the more you use the keyboard, the more you will memorize the positions and won't have to think about it so much. (A helpful tip to to associate the Cyrillic letter with the Roman letter for that key. So when you think of "я," for instance, think "q.")

Asking Questions
Alternatively, you can ask a question on a forum on a regular basis. I've already mentioned italki. Well, they have a dedicated section on their site for this. Just click on the "Ask a question" tab under the thingie that looks like a pad and pen. Or again you can use Benny's forum at fi3m.com/forum or the many forums of LingQ. You don't learn if you don't ask questions. Benjamin Franklin once quipped: "He who teaches himself has a fool for a master."

Email/Message
Online you can use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and italki.com to more easily find native speakers to message. Because their social networking sites, it's less weird to be openly friendly with strangers and communicate with them. Write to them in their language to catch their interest. Show them you're interested in their culture. Or email people you do know who speak your target language but can't meet up with for whatever reason. It's a good way to stay connected.

Creative
I haven't actually done this yet but have thought about a bit. That is, to write something (a story, poem) in another language. You may think this is easy. If you do, you're probably not a very good writer because you don't understand what goes into good writing. If I try to write a story or poem in Spanish, which actually I began speaking before English, I will have less tools, so to speak, in my toolbox. (I'm actually paraphrasing Colombian novelist Juan Gabriel Vasquez, author of El ruido de las cosas as caer [The Sound of Things Falling].) Translation works much the same way. It is perhaps easier because you have a work of art there in front of you. You just have to replicate that in your language. I've taken a translation workshop during my MFA, and it was a lot harder than expected. Much respect to the diligent translators out there. Whether you're creating your own work of art or translating, it's hard. But if you take small steps, maybe start out with a small poem and have some native speaker of your target language look at it, then you will learn a lot over time, which I think is how it should be. I don't think we can really teach anyone anything. We can only help others to learn for themselves through doing.

Apps and Web sites
The following is a list of applications and Web sites that provide lessons, instruction, or just an environment in language learning.
  • BBC Languages - A few dedicated courses (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and Chinese), essential phrases in over 40 languages, and links to other courses.
  • Human Japanese Lite - App for iOS and Android. Text-based, like a very long article, but with audio and games. Really good for beginners. Highly informative. I haven't bought the paid version. This thing is pretty long, so I haven't finished.
  • Innovative Language - Has a series of apps (many for free) for iOS in a series of languages. WordPower provides you with courses. Pod101 provides podcasts with phrases and vocab.
    • italki.com - Language learning community, plus paid lessons from qualified teachers.
    • Japanese Phrases - App for iOS. There's a free version and a paid version. I paid $10 for the paid app, a lot, but I use it every day. The free app, like the paid one, has flash cards, quizzes, and lessons. Good quality. There's also an advanced version. Yes, I bought that, too. Not as rich in content as the original.
      • Livemocha - Was very much like italki.com, a language learning community, then got corporate and now mostly provides a few mundane online courses.
      • Ma France - A great interactive video-based French language learning course with quizzes and games, also found on the BBC Web site.
        • NHK World Japanese Lessons - Lots of free podcasts for Japanese language learning.
        • Speak in a Week - Crash course in language learning by Benny the Irish Polyglot.
        Or just check out this other more complete list of language learning for free Web sites on Open Culture.

        I hope these posts have given you lots of ideas of your own. We must live with the language to learn the language - make it a part of our lives. If you think about how we came to learn our mother tongue, it's because we were immersed in the language. Everyone, at least those important to us, spoke it. It takes a long time for babies. Think about all the schooling and life experience you've had learning it. Well, you need to put in some time for the new language as well. Hopefully, not as much.

        Thursday, August 14, 2014

        How to Approach Language Learning - 3/4

        Number three of four posts on language learning for free. This one is on the area of reading.

        Reading
        Books, Stories, and Poems
        I've been reading more and more fiction and poetry in the languages I speak (Besides English: Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese) as of late. This is a great strategy because it's challenging and yet something, with time, you can overcome and get better at. I'm currently reading Cien anos de soledad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I recommend reading foreign language books digitally because you can get the definitions to words in the target language (if you're using a Kindle, for instance). Or if you read online, you can get instant translations by downloading the Google Dictionary extension for Google Chrome, which is an instant dictionary but also does instant translations. This is a lot faster than turning the pages of a print dictionary every other word. Yes, books cost money, though ebooks are often not very expensive at all. But you can access free books in other languages via Project Gutenberg or Google Play and even on Amazon (check out my public wish list: Free Foreign Language Kindle eBooks). One strategy I like is to reread books I've already read in English in the original language (e.g., reading Madame Bovary in French after reading it in English), preferably a few years apart. Because you already know the story, you will understand more, have to look up less. For stories and poems just search for them online. They're very often free, especially if they're old. If you don't know any titles off the top of your head, try Poetry International Rotterdam. On the site, you can read quality poems from around the world, choose from a wide variety of languages, and have the translation on the right and the original text on the left as you read.

        Newsletters
        There are lots free newsletters you can subscribe to. I like this option because the newsletters arrive in my inbox so there's no need to remember to go to any Web site. Often times you can just Google your language plus "newsletter" and find something. I'm a big fan in particular of word of the day newsletters because I don't want to spend too much time each day going over lessons. I have apps and books and videos I already use, read, and watch. Some good word of the day newsletters I use can be found at: About.com (just search for your language or type "Spanish," "French," "Italian," "German," "Mandarin," or "Japanese" and ".about.com"), Innovative Language, and Transparent Language. Each has its pros and cons. Try them for yourself. About.com also has weekly lessons. Innovative Language has podcasts and multiple phrases. Transparent Language has one phrase per day, sometimes doesn't have the transliteration, but probably has a larger number of words than Innovative. All have the audio.

        Articles
        Likewise you can read articles, online or in print, in your target language. You probably know that. But the trick is, how do you incorporate it into your life so you don't have to think about it? Well, on the Web you can read that article you just read in English on Wikipedia in your target language. Look on the left under "Languages." I know you've seen that before, right? This time, use it. There are also Google Chrome extensions that immerse you in the language without much effort from you, such as Flewent, which replaces text on the Web as you browse with words from your target language, and Duolinguo, which asks for you to translate sentences, according to your level, giving you hints if you don't know. The Google Translate extension is good, too, since after it translates the Web page, you can still see the original text and compare. Take it one sentence at a time. Warning: the translations by Google Translate, if you didn't know this already, aren't exactly 100% accurate. Like the BBC? Choose a language at BBC News in Languages and read the news in your target language. You get news and language learning! Two birds, one stone! (As far as print goes, if that's your thing, you will likely have to spend some money, unless you have access to foreign language magazines, say, at the dentist's office while you're waiting or at the discount store. You can always read for free at the library or book store, as well. Otherwise, check out International Newspaper Subscriptions, which allows you to search by language, country, or title, as well as from weekly, monthly, or yearly subscriptions. You get them shipped to you. It's like the country comes to you!)

        Wednesday, August 13, 2014

        How to Approach Language Learning - 2/4

        I believe you can learn another language for free. In this second post of four, I discuss how to improve your speaking skills. (I think it's important to work on all areas, even if speaking is more important at first: listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

        Speaking
        Video Chat
        One approach Benny the Irish polyglot uses is to Skype video chat with native speakers. I think this is brilliant because there aren't always native speakers of your target language around or easily accessible (you might not know them or be shy, for instance) in your city. Benny suggests in his Speak in a Week crash course that you search for people on italki.com, which is a language learning social networking site, and ask someone to Skype video chat with you. (Or you can pay for video lessons from professional teachers of your target language for something like $5/hr.) You can also find people on the forum on his site, fi3m.com/forum, or try to find someone on LingQ's forums (a lot of forums here, depending on language and topic). There are also sites dedicated to people meeting up, such as Meetup.com and Couchsurfing (great for finding people all over the world depending on where you're traveling, and if you're traveling anyway, then this is also a good way to save money on hotels).

        Video chatting is great because another helpful and patient person is there to help you in real time. Now, why would someone do this for you? Well, if you teach him/her some English, which is in high demand around the world, he/she will gladly teach you his/her language. Give and you shall receive.

        Friends and More
        The ideal thing would be to be in the country - because you'd be forced to speak the language. But that's an expensive strategy if you just want to learn the language (unless, say, you're from Quebec and want to learn French). Also, you'd have to wait to get there. And then how long are you going to be there for? And what about studying right now? Wouldn't it be better to already be speaking the language by the time you get there? Wouldn't that make for a much better visit?

        So the next best thing is to have a friend or girlfriend/boyfriend who is a native speaker of your target language. (I like to say, jokingly, that the best way to learn a language is to date someone who only speaks his/her native language well. Talk about motivation!) You might say that these options cost money - the latter, especially if you're a straight guy, much more so. But you're going to make friends and date anyway, right? Seriously, right? I hope. So try searching for people who speak your target language in obvious places, such as in Chinatown for a Chinese person or an ethnic restaurant. Strike up a conversation while waiting in line (you're waiting anyway) or with the person taking your order (you're speaking anyway). Universities are also good places to look for international or first generation people. If you're shy, just start talking to them in their native tongue, which often times is rather impressive and shows you care about the person's culture. Just don't assume s/he is Japanese or Indian or whatever. If you hear an accent or a foreign sounding name, you can ask where s/he is from and then start speaking in his/her language. Teach the person English, if s/he needs/wants it, and s/he will teach you your target language. Or choose at least one day of the week to hang out or go on a date and only communicate in your target language. Use gestures if you have to but try not to use English.

        Just You
        This approach is obviously not as good as the other approaches but sometimes it's your only option. It's also a good supplement to everything else you're hopefully doing. Now, there are two things you can do by yourself to improve your non-English speaking skills.

        First, you can have a self dialogue where you play both roles of a two-way conversation. The conversation will depend on your level and goals. If you're starting out, memorize and practice the common phrases (Hello, How are you? Nice to meet you, My name is so-and-so, What's your name?). If your goal is to pick up girls, for instance, just a random example, you would practice your ideal pickup scenario (Hey, You're cute, Want to go on a date?). Record it. Listen to it. Keep practicing.

        Second, you can think out loud in your target language. I do this all the time and people don't think I'm crazy at all. It's pretty useful. You work on your pronunciation, but, more importantly, you're making your brain work in creating sentences and expressing itself in that language. You can have a specific day of the week where you only think in that language. Maybe start out with a few minutes, then half an hour, then an hour, and so on. Or maybe you think in that language as you watch anime or videos or listen to music in that language, which act like reminders. Another good idea is to make a video of yourself speaking in the language - prepare a short intro or something you want to say, maybe a vlog of your recent progress and/or challenges. If you share it with other people, say on YouTube, you'll likely get some encouragement from others and/or be motivated by your public declaration of studying the language. If you fail, others will know!

        How to Approach Language Learning - 1/4

        I love languages, and I think everyone in the world should and can learn at least one other language - yes, even if you speak English. I've been reading a lot recently about how to approach language learning. There are a lot of theories out there. I'm not a fan of Rosetta Stone because it's overpriced. The Pimsleur method, I think, relies too heavily on audio and the basics. The person whose approach I agree with most is that of Benny the Irish Polyglot. I'm currently reading his book Fluent in the 3 Months, which is a fun read and very useful, though, unless you know nothing about language learning, you will likely skip some passages. I'm not going to rehash what he says, which, to summarize in one sentence, is: speak from day one. (That is, focus on speaking above all - isn't that why you're learning the language, to communicate with another human being?) Instead, what I want to do is break down the areas of language learning and tell you what you can do to work on those areas and how to integrate them into your life.

        My own philosophy is that you don't need to spend a dime (well, assuming you have Internet access) to learn another language. So the following advice will hold true to that. Because of length, I've decided to divide my advice into four posts. This one will discuss listening, the next will be on speaking, the next on reading, and then the last on writing. (At the end I will give a list, with comments, of Web sites and apps that do, more or less, a little of everything.)

        Listening
        Music Videos
        Besides buying foreign language music, you can listen to music videos in your target language for free on YouTube. Create a playlist. Check out the lyrics for free online with a simple Google search. (To have the lyrics with you if you use iTunes, copy the lyrics and then right click on the song in iTunes, click on "Get info," and paste under the "Lyrics" tab. It'll be on your device once you sync. Embarrassingly, I did not know about this for quite a while. But you have to buy the song. If it's your fav song, then it's no big deal. Only a buck, maybe two.) Also, often times there are foreign language music videos with the English subtitles. Just do a YouTube search and look around. Some of my favorite Japanese artists (often I hear of them through anime) are: Yui, Younha (who's actually Korean, but sometimes sings in Japanese), and Rie fu. Actually, this will sound corny but, one of my favorite anime songs is the closing theme to the original Dragon Ball (not Dragon Ball Z!), called "Romantikku Ageru Yo." You can watch/listen while you exercise, clean, write, or are doing something physical, or just whenever you're in the mood. Playing the music videos always during a certain activity will help you remember.

        Podcasts
        There are plenty of free podcasts out there. Search iTunes. (I'm deep into the Apple world because I've bought many apps and don't want to lose them by switching.) Search online, too. LanguagePod101.com has a large selection of languages and free podcasts, which you can listen to on your iOS or Andriod device(s). You can pay to upgrade, of course. Alternatively, try the Coffee Break series by Radio Lingua Network, which has tons of content, if a small selection of languages (Spanish, French, and German). Podcasts are extremely mobile. I like to listen to them while I walk or take public transportation. It does divide your attention, though, so watch out for cars - and for potentially smiling inappropriately while walking past people due to the occasional jokes.

        Video Lessons, Newscasts, Movies, and Shows
        YouTube is free and has a lot of language learning channels, so if you're not signed up already, sign up! Here are some I subscribe to: Learn Italian with Lucrezia (Italian), Anil Mahato (Hindi), Enchantrees * (Bengali), YangYang Cheng (Chinese). LearnArabicwithMaha (Arabic), Gimmeabreakman (Japanese). You can also search LanguagePod101 on YouTube and get video lessons in your target language that way. And here are some that are in the target language only: TV5Monde (French), Univision Noticias (Spanish), ANNnewsCH (Japanese), Bangla Natok (Bengali), and SET India (Hindi). There are many free movies on YouTube in Hindi and Japanese, for example, as well as in other languages. Just search "(target language) + movies or films - many have subtitles. Moreover, Hulu has a lot of free content in other languages. If you like anime, as I do, you can watch Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece and so on in the original Japanese with English subtitles. This in particular has been very useful to me because I've gotten used to the cadences and gestures and rhythms and expressions used in formal and informal speech. And I've been able to tell the difference from the first episode when I understood, like, a word, to the last, when I understood, like, a lot. (You can, of course, buy DVDs of such series or pay to subscribe to HuluPlus for additional content.) Watch while you eat. If you already have a smart phone, watch while you're waiting for that appointment or taking public transportation. Not while walking!

        To be continued . . .

        Sunday, August 3, 2014

        My Top 5 Favorite Novels

        It's hard to say what the best five novels I've ever read are. In fact, I generally think that it's dumb to talk about the best novel or best song - just like its dumb to talk about a best color. Yes, novels and songs are art. Colors, in and of themselves, are not - except when "created" by companies. However, who's to say, out of all the great novels that have been written, which one is superior to the rest? It's like asking, Who's the most beautiful woman in the world? Once you reach a certain level of beauty, it doesn't really matter. It's about personal taste or mood. Along these lines, I'd like to use the term "favorite" instead of "best."

        Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

        This is the first Murakami novel I read. I don't know if that had anything to do with the massive effect this book had on me. I also thought that it was autobiographical, which, as it turns out, it wasn't, except for some minor details about the school and so on. This book seriously made me depressed and toward the end, when Watanabe is helpless to assist an ever-worsening Naoko, I cried a little. Really, I was just thinking about it, not while reading, and maybe it connected with something in my life, how we are completely helpless in aiding others, not just from death but from pain. I read the English translation by Jay Rubin (2000). (I prefer Birnbaum as Murakami translator.) I've heard Murakami isn't as good in Japanese. Anyway, I'm still somewhat afraid of the book, knowing I'll read it again someday. If you don't mind unbearable sadness, if you're a bit of a loner, if you contemplate death more than the average Joe or Jane, then this novel is perfect for you. Although this is Murakami's only non-speculative novel, it's  not too dissimilar to his other novels, sharing themes. It isn't as funny, though. (I did a more detailed review of the novel, which you can read by clicking here.)

        So good I bought the film (2010), which is in Japanese. Not as good as the book. Some good, affecting parts. Good actors. But, and I won't do a review here but, it just, to me, doesn't capture certain elements from the book, such as the long, helpless nature of watching Naoko die. And it depicts this overally dramatic shot of Watanabe crying his eyes out, which is so antithetical to the book, which omits any direct expressions of his sadness. And then there's the ending, totally not the right mood of the book, which celebrates Naoko's life, if done so by having Watanabe have sex with Reiko, several times, who was the closest person to her. I hope someone makes another version.

        The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

        Embarrassingly, I first read this in grad school. I didn't have a great high school education growing up in the Bronx to poor parents. Didn't really learn to appreciate literature for a while. But at least I read it when I could. The character of Gatsby, his climax, his end is all powerfully affecting, and the way the story is so compact, concise, and coherent. It's easy to identify with Gatsby. He wants something he can't have, so he endeavors to attain it. He pretends to be someone else. He's forced to realize that he's not, and that he can't control time, no one can. Really spoke to me because of my unrequited desires, but that's as much as I'll get into with that.

        Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

        I first read this as an undergrad at Fordham U, for a course on Thomas Hardy. I signed up because I had heard a few cool things about him, that his heart and body were buried in two different locations, which was true, and that he committed suicide, which wasn't - perhaps I was thinking of Plath? I didn't appreciate it much then because of all the work, being a full-time student, and Hardy novels are long! But reading his works on my own allowed me to better appreciate Hardy. Yes, he can be verbose and sensational, but, man, can the guy be sad - and this is a sad, sad book. It's about a stonemason who has big dreams of being one of those smart academicians in the big city. He falls for his beautiful cousin, but fate, working via a religious society that condemns human nature, keeps them miserable and married to other people. I'm really not doing justice to this novel - it's better than it sounds. (To read more about the novel, click here for my review.)

        Silence by Shusako Endo

        Another translation (1969). I read this book as an undergrad at Fordham U, and I'll never forget it. I'm not a religious guy, and even though the central story has to do with Catholic Portuguese missionaries in seventeenth century Japan, it had a powerful effect on me, informing my future understanding of good literature. I remember mostly the rain, the cicadas, the violence against the Christians, the Christians' resilience and faith, and the interactions between the Japanese and the Westerners, two peoples who had never seen each other before trying to relate to each other as human beings despite their vastly different cultures. We're all human. I also related very much to the theme of God's silence amid so much suffering. Perhaps that's the number one reason people leave their faith.

        Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

        This book is just honest and unpretentious. When Holden talks to you, you feel there's a real person. It's the protagonist's youth and inexperience that makes him so fit to be narrator. If he knew any better, he wouldn't make the mistakes he does and he wouldn't care so much about telling his parents about his leaving the school or where the ducks go in the winter. He would make better decisions and not try to run away from  home. It's in these mistakes that we, those of us older than Holden, revisit our own mistakes. These mistakes are unavoidable and vital in how we grow to be the men and women we are today. A very fun read. The prostitute scene is hilarious! All the sudden she's like, "Oh, you're kinda cute."

        I actually still have a lot to read, as I still consider myself somewhat under-read because of my lackluster early education. So this list is certainly not definitive. I might do one every five to ten years. What are some of your favorite novels?

        Saturday, June 21, 2014

        Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

        I started reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1991) because I really loved Murakami's Norwegian Wood (2000). Honestly, that book devastated me it was so sad. Very Japanese. It was Murakami's only "realism" novel. I became a Murakami fan right away. Not sure if there is a term for us - perhaps minikami, or kamikaze. I read the free Kindle sample a few years ago and loved the opening, my first taste of Murakami in his element. So about a month ago, I started Hard-Boiled. (I read several books at the same time because I get bored, or maybe it's some mild version of ADD.) Here's my review - of course, there are spoilers.

        First, some background on Murakami and the novel. The book was originally published in Japanese in 1985. It is Murakami's fourth published novel. It was translated into English in 1991 by Alfred Birnbaum, whose fluid translations I tend to favor over the more logical ones of Jay Rubin, translator of Norwegian Wood, for instance.

        There are really, appropriately, two stories here. The first, Hardboiled Wonderland, is about a hardboiled data analyst who gets sucked into this strange and, at times, incredible infowar, involving weird fish-insect-things called INKlings; Semiotics; Calcutecs; an disinterested, genius old scientist; and his chubby granddaughter. The other is set in a timeless landscape called the End of the World, filled with unicorns, a giant enclosing wall, a Gatekeeper, and a talking shadow. The two represent not only the duality of death and perpetual life but also the conscious mind and mindless existence.

        The stories are beautiful, but, of course, the sum is greater than the parts. By the end of both, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of appreciation for life, which was nice because for most of the book I was horrified by the idea of the protagonist being trapped in a mindless eternity. It made me think a lot about death. I mean, at some point we're all gonna die. Sorry. It sucks. But it seems remote, distant. However, for the protagonist, it's very real: he finds out he's going to die in about two days. Most people would freak out, I think. But he doesn't really seem to care too much. At least, that's how it comes across. But when we read his final day, I, at least, am struck by his appreciation for the little things. He eats popcorn, feeds the pigeons, listens to Bob Dylan, and lies back in his car in the sun. Of course, there's one other thing he does: he makes a real human connection with the librarian. Call it love or whatever, it was real emotion, human to human. And that's what makes eternity livable for him, that he has a piece of her mind with him always. They are memories. No one can take them away from us. No one can take away how someone else makes us feel and the connections we've made with people - because, really, that's the only thing that matters. Everything else collects dust and withers, forever lost, to be washed away by rain.

        It also made me think about the possibility of living forever. That's the nature of the End of the World, an artificial place created in the protagonist's mind. Having lost his mind, the protagonist is essentially stuck there without death, without life - only existence. What could make something like that livable? There are plenty of people predicting immortality for humans in the future. In fact, at the very end, the Old Man's granddaughter says she's going to freeze the protagonist's body after he dies - hopefully, so he can live forever in the future. This element is not simply made up. Cryogenics is a real field of science, and there have already been plenty of people who have signed up and who have been frozen with the hope of being resurrected in the future. I've wondered myself if that is a good thing, or would I just prefer to die. Here's the dilemma: I'm afraid to die and I'm afraid of living forever. But one of these is going to happen for sure no matter what - there's no escape. But reading this book, it made me realize that both are OK. They're only unpleasant if you make them. No one will force you to live forever. And if you're a believer, or if you plan on freezing yourself, or if you follow Raymond Kurzweil's ideas, then you might not necessarily die. If life is pleasant, then live in the moment. Don't think about a thousand years from now. A thousand years from now doesn't exist. Live one day at a time. And as far as dying goes, it's your escape, or your final act, if you wish. If you feel like you lived a good life and you're satisfied, than why not end? It seems like the natural thing to do.

        Overall, yes, I would recommend this book to the kamikaze out there. It's highly entertaining and hilarious. I didn't know Murakami was this funny. If you love science fiction or fantasy, each story has one of these elements, then you're very likely to love this book. If you like Japanese literature, you'll like this, too. (Murakami has been known to be more "Western" in his writing style than traditionally Japanese, but I always find him to be a balanced blend, maintaining a Japanese identity with his Japanese themes of suffering and compassion while appealing to Westerners with his humor, taste for speculative adventure, and focus on individualism.)

        Sunday, June 15, 2014

        Goals for Writing Sessions

        There are essentially three ways of prioritizing your writing sittings. Mostly, I hear of two of them only, forming a binary that is hard to escape from mentally. What are they?

        The first is to orientate your sittings around the goal of word count. That is, every day or every week, maybe every month, you have a certain word count you want to achieve, say 2,000 words a day or 10,000 words per week. The pros are that this gives you a real result that can't be faked. (I suppose you could just type "blah blah blah" over and over again - but really who does that?) This goal also gives you a lot of flexibility. You could hammer out all the words in a few minutes, depending on the gaol, and then be free most of the day - the best part about being a writer! Or you could write and then return later after a break. What's also good about this technique is that it gives the writer an incentive to, well, write. This is often the hardest part about, uh, writing - putting words down. We often filter ourselves, demanding perfection or something damn well near it. But it also makes us reluctant to write anything down. This idea, at least, seems to free us from that perfectionist filter.

        Now the cons. For me, I spend most of my time editing or coming up with different scenarios or restructuring or developing characters and so on. This unfortunately doesn't count. Or if it did - if I counted the words added to, say, character sheets or an outline, it would be very frustrating because I often delete a lot and then add a lot, delete and then add. In fact, I'm a strong proponent of Hemingway's iceberg theory, basically that the more you take out from a story, assuming it's unimportant, the stronger it becomes. So I delete a lot. I'm also not very verbose - something else that I've learned from Hemingway and others. I don't slow sentences or scenes down - unless for some effect. So, although this principle adds a lot of words, which can then be deleted later, I fear that I would be wasting a lot of time because a) I need a lot of time to develop characters, the scenery, the plot, etc. and b) I would develop threads of story that are spur of the moment and not well thought out.

        The other main way writers tend to orientate their sittings is with a time goal. Maybe you write for two hours a day, if you're the busy type, or twenty-five hours a week. Again, there's a lot of flexibility here because you can complete those hours whenever you feel like it - all in one sitting or throughout the day whenever you have time. The idea behind this way of thinking I think is quantity over quality. I personally have been using this strategy as of late because of the aforementioned writing habits of mine. I do favor this over the former approach because I think that any time spent thinking, structuring, tinkering, and/or writing should count.

        However, there is one significant drawback: wasting time. I've often been tempted to sit there and do nothing or prolong the process simply to meet my time quota. Yes, there are ways of preventing this sort of thing on a conscious level - by keeping a timer, for instance. However, the important point is not to have that incentive at all - because, at some point, subconsciously, you are going to be influenced by it, and time is, almost undoubtedly, the single most important aspect of a writer's life.

        There must be a better way. For me, I think I've found one, though some may argue it is a variant of the time goal. What works best for me is to write based on specific goals per session - that is, to finish some segment, a sizable chunk, of story or novel per day. It depends on where you're at in the writing process. If you're editing, as I often am (I'm on the fifth draft of my first short novel), then you goal might be to finish editing one chapter a day. If you're writing an outline, then maybe your specific goal is to write a general outline of the whole novel by the end of the day. Then it might be to do a more specific outline for each chapter per day. Not only does this approach afford you flexibility - you after all know what you can accomplish per day or per week - but it gives you tangible results. It works well for me, pushing me while letting me know I'm making progress. The only drawback is that you have to set the right specific goal: it has to be specific, challenging but doable. That is how you grow as a writer - or, as everyone else seems to call it, waste time. Speaking of that, I'm done. For now.

        Monday, June 2, 2014

        Short Story: A World Inside

        My short story "A World Inside" is now up at Piker Press. I wrote it while completing my MFA program at City. So, it's about my early failures at writing. We all have to face our faults, one way or another. This one's a little depressing, but I was feeling a little dark at the time. I'm happy now, I swear.

        Tuesday, May 13, 2014

        Paper: Black and White

        Publishing these papers online because I lost my flash drive and wish to do my part to help protect academic integrity.

        This one I wrote for a class on critical theory, as a student of Fordham U.

        Black and White
                    James McBrides’ The Color of Water explores the white-black dichotomy that is so central to Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. This dichotomy can also be seen as a two-way mirror that separates and shapes the lived experiences of the black man and the white man. The black man is in a veritable dark room whereby he can not see himself, only the white man. Conversely, the white man is in the light room but does not see the black man, only his own reflection. Both are aware of the other’s existence on the other side of the mirror and have some means of communication (say, telephone) – a micro society. However, the black man, as Fanon argues, can only identify himself via the Other, the white man. At the same time, the white man sees only himself since, in society, he has no intimate knowledge of the black man and, therefore, creates this conception of “black man” from his own mind. That is, as exemplified in The Color of Water, Fanon’s description of the lived experience of the black man is a two-way mirror.
                    First let us look as the black man in the dark room. The room is dark much like the history of the black man. His history is dark in two senses of the word: 1) it is filled with tragedy, such as slavery and murder, and 2) it is obscure because little is known about Africa or its inhabitants prior to its European colonization. This darkness makes the black man susceptible to the white man, who, knowing this, uses it for manipulation; he tells the black man, essentially, that he is inferior. However, the issue is further complicated by the fact that this view is wrong; African culture has been shown to be much more advanced than what historically it has been depicted as; the black man is “not a potentiality of something” but is fully what he is (Fanon 114).
        Then there is the fact that the black man can not see himself in the two-way mirror. Instead, he sees the white man – what he is not. It is this opposition that shapes his perceived identity; without the white man’s presence, there would be no such false identity. Fanon writes, “As long as the black man remains on his home territory . . . he will not have to experience his being for others” (89). The black man in the dark room regards the visible presence of the white man and must exist while being exposed to the persistent presence of the white gaze; he feels the white man all around him (Fanon 94). He must, therefore, not only be black but black in relation to white, giving him a confusing two systems of reference (Fanon 90). Because his own history is dark, the black man has no choice but to assume the identity that comes with the latter system of reference. This identity is conveyed to the black man via his interactions with the white man, specifically, by the white man’s “gestures and attitude” (Fanon 89) Further, this forced identity and subordination causes the black man to feel angry whereby the only solutions are that he either accepts his subordinate social position or he completely denies the its vraisemblance. As Fanon notes, the white man will reject the black man as an equal, so the black man is lead into either pride of some newly discovered blackness or shame and self contempt.
                    James McBride’s descriptions of his own experiences as a black man in The Color of Water exemplifies this being in the third person that Fanon describes (90). Much of McBride’s early childhood, following the death of his father, was spent going to the cinema and watching blaxploitation films, such as Superfly and Shaft; smoking reefer; snatching purses; and shoplifting (McBride 6). This acceptance of “blackness” was an act of confirmation to the identity that the Other gave him; the world demanded of him to act like a black man (Fanon 94). Further, McBride falls in love with the black power movement and the Black Panthers (McBride 25). Also, his older sister, Helen, drops out of school, stating: “The white man’s education is not for me” (McBride 73). These acts are confirmations of the stage of acceptance and assertion of blackness by the black man in response to and rejection of the white man’s oppression.
                    Now we turn to the white man in the light room on the other side of the two-way mirror. He is in the light room because his history is: 1) filled with many achievements, such as the conquering of foreign lands and the creation of many invaluable technologies, and 2) is well known and documented. Therefore, the white man has a relationship with the world that “is one of appropriation” (Fanon 107).
        In the light room, the white man is only able to see his own reflection. He is aware that the black man is on the other side but can not see him directly. Therefore, he must create the black man from his own mind. What basis does the white man have to create such a conception? For this task, he looks toward history, his only useful resource. As we all know, the black man was brought into the white world from Africa in chains. He was made a slave and treated as an animal, all based on the belief that blacks were not fully human and were inherently inferior mentally. That is not all. The black man is something to be feared; he has a violent and aggressive nature. It is this conception that the white man adopts, and the black man, unable to change the obvious epidermal difference, can not escape this color prejudice; the black man is a slave to his appearance (Fanon 95). Anthony Appiah emphasis this point in Critical Terms for Literary Study, naming appearance as the defining characteristic of the Other (274). He calls this belief in fundamental inheritable traits in “races” racialist (Appiah 176). Racialists believe that a Negro’s black skin, for instance, “goes along with other important inherited characteristics” (Appiah 276). The term Karim Murji in New Keywords uses  to call the act is racial essentialism which arises from racialization, “various processes by which real or imagined characteristics are used to identify a group as ‘racial’ collectivity, and cultural, political, or ideological situations where race thinking is invoked” (291).
        Nothing the black man does or is can find him favor in the eyes of the white man: refined manners, literary knowledge or understanding of esoteric subjects (Fanon 97). Moreover, there is no rationality, such as the genealogical identicalness between the two races, that can save the black man. Rationalizing the world will ultimately lead to its rejecting of the black man (Fanon 102). Thus, the black man is objectified indefinitely.
        What is more, this conception forces the black man to be responsible not only himself but for his entire race and ancestors (Fanon 92); he is the black slave as well as the African native. This causes a persistent self awareness and anxiety.
        In The Color of Water, Ruth McBride, James’ mother, denies her whiteness to her children when asked, stating that she is simply “light-skinned.” She denies it because she does not want her children to question their own identities and focus on this black-white dichotomy which has become a societal obsession, which, in turn, is a defining and definitive attribute of this type of separated society. However, it proves to be impossible not to discriminate; James knew that his mother was different from the other kids’ mothers, that she was not black (McBride 23). He feared that the Black Panthers would kill his mother, a fear, that blacks were hostile toward whites, instilled in him from the white man (McBride 26-7). In fact, he recounts: “Most white folks I knew seemed to have a great fear of blacks. Even as a young child, I was aware of that.” (McBride 31). In turn, whites are “implicitly evil towards blacks” (McBride 29).
        A counterargument can be raised against my claim that the two-way mirror analogy which summarizes Fanon’s argument is exemplified in McBride’s The Color of Water. Namely, it is this: Does not the exposure to the black man, through daily interactions with him, serve to change the perception of him, and thus serve to erode the mirror over time? This is an issue that Fanon does not address. However, what we know is that, in general, we see that real life exposure to people of different racial groups helps to break stereotypes. Does this fact, then, lead to the erosion of the two-way mirror? Yes. However, in society, true and honest communication between the races, though increasing more common, still remains relatively low. Therefore, the mirror is still in place today – as it was in Fanon’s time.
        The black-white dichotomy is a two-way mirror, the black man on one side, the white man on the other. One’s point of view makes all the difference. History shapes our view points and we can either accept it with pride or accept it shamefully. The mirror can erode but only through communication.


        Works Cited
        Appiah, Anthony. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Print.
        Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press, 1994. Print.
        McBride, James. The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. Riverhead Books, New York: 1996. Print.

        Murji, Karim. New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary and Society. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Print.

        Monday, May 12, 2014

        Paper: Metacomet's Kampf

        Flash drive: Still lost. Me: Still publishing my papers online for the sake of academic integrity. (I'm presupposing that professors will Google papers to ensure they're not copied.)

        This one was written while at Fordham U (undergrad). For a class called Dissent and Disinformation, about King Philip, AKA Metacomet.

        Metacom’s Kampf: A Native American King’s Stand Against an American Empire
                    When Plymouth colony was founded in 1607, the prospects for the settlers looked bleak. The pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower in 1620 could have easily perished had it not been for the help of Native Americans such as Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how and what to cultivate in the New World. How quickly things change. As the colonist population grew, their settlements expanded, encroaching on more and more Native American land. Both parties needed land to live on; war, it seems, was inevitable. One man who rose against what would become the American Empire in defense of his people and his culture is Metacom, or “King Philip of the Wampanoags,” as the English colonists called him.
                    Metacom was the sachem (or war chief) of the Wampanoags, a Native American tribe of southern New England. Metacom’s father, Massasoit (whose name means great sachem), is famous for having met and established an alliance with the Pilgrims. Massasoit, however, resisted the advancement of Christianity on his people by missionaries. This holding on to of his people’s beliefs and identity is something that he passed on to his sons. His eldest son was Wamsutta, also known as King Alexander by the English. Wamsutta became sachem of the Wampanoags after Massasoit’s death around 1661. As sachem he sold land to the colonies in an attempt to increase Wampanoag power and gained the distrust of the English as a result. In 1662, he is forced at gun point to Plymouth to stand trial for allegedly conspiring to attack English settlements. He becomes ill and dies shortly after leaving said court. His brother, Metacom, then, becomes sachem. Metacom believed, and almost certainly so, that his brother was killed by the English, which is sure to have fueled his animosity toward the English.
                    The animosity between the Wampanoags and the English, however, was many years in the making. Things were already bleak; as Howard Zinn quotes from Wilcomb Washburn in A People’s History of the United States, “There was a genuine distress, genuine poverty. . . . All contemporary sources speak of the great mass of people as living in severe economic straits [in the New World]” (40). As mentioned, the growth of Plymouth colony was a serious problem, its population doubling every 25 years. Indeed, these people had to go somewhere, but the Native Americans were here first and they were now being forced out of the lands their ancestors have held for thousands of years. Their appeals went largely unheard.
                    The colonists were not simply satisfied by taking Native American land, many also felt it necessary to replace the beliefs of the Native Americans with their own – i.e., Christianity. Missionaries such as John Elliot penetrated Native American villages with the sole object of conversion. There was some success along these lines as some Native Americans did convert, dubbed “praying Indians.” This was not enough either; the English set up “praying towns,” towns built for Native Americans to be taught Christianity and English. There was surely a sect of Native Americans that did not mind this at all. However, many tribes saw this as an English attempt to erase Native American culture altogether, which overtly implies a supposed inferiority of who they are. Needless to say, many felt the need to preserve what they had and resist the English.
                    Disease also paid a major factor. Much of the Wampanoag (and by greater extent Native American) population was destroyed by diseases brought forth by the English (and other Europeans), namely small pox and measles. European populations had gone through several periods of pandemics, which have served over time as a catalyst for tougher genes to fight off diseases. On the other hand, the Native Americans had no such exposure. Therefore, they had not built up immunity to European diseases, nor had they modern medicine to deal with such outbreaks.
                    All things, therefore, seemed destined for war. The spark that ignited the war was a praying Indian by the name of John Sassomon (converted by John Elliot). He was a key figure to this whole thing. Sassomon was raised as a servant in an English household. As is stated in History of King Philip, “he and his family were on the most intimate and friendly relations with the colonists” (188). He was taught English and Christianity. Sassomon was fluent in the English and Massachusetts languages. He, therefore, became vital to both the Plymouth colonists and the Native Americans in their quest to cross enemy lines, so to speak. As such, he became a confidant of Metacom.
                    In December of 1674, Sassomon told Plymouth governor Josiah Winslow of an impending Native American attack Metacom was allegedly planning. “According to Indian code, the offender was deemed a traitor and a renegade, and was doomed to death; and it was the duty of every subject of King Philip to kill him whenever and wherever he could be found” (Abbott, 189). Before any investigation was had, Sassomon’s body was found in Assawompset Pond (January, 1675). A Native American told Governor Josiah Winslow that he saw three Pokanoket men (one of whom was a counselor to Metacom) murder Sassomon and throw his body into the pond. The three men were arrested and put on trial in Plymouth. They were found guilty and hanged in June of 1675. This implication that Metacom was involved infuriated many Native Americans.
                    On June 20, the English settlement at Swansea was attacked by vengeful Pokanoket for five days, settlers were killed and Swansea was completely destroyed. Boston and Plymouth officials responded by calling on the local militia to take on this indigenous threat. The native village of Mount Hope, a retreat of Metacom, was subsequently destroyed – men, women and children slaughtered indiscriminately. This attack, however, only served to strengthen Native American unity as the Nipmuck and the Podunk, for instance, join Metacom’s forces. From July to September, this unified Native American force attacks several English settlements: Middleborough, Dartmouth, Mendon, Brookfield, Lancaster, Deerfield, Northfield.
                    War is officially declared by the Plymouth Colony Confederation on September 9, 1675. King Philip’s War, or Metacom’s Rebellion, as it has come to be called, was fought between Metacom’s unified forces and the colonists and militia of New England (Plymouth, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) and their Native American allies (Mohegan, Mohawks, and Pequot). From the outset, Metacom and his men seemed doomed; their opponents were more numerous and technologically advanced. This is one of the best testaments to the heart, courage, and conviction of Metacom and the Native Americans who faced such persecution and injustice.
                    The Battle of Bloody Brook was the biggest defeat for the English in this war. It began as 100 or so Englishmen were collecting crops in an abandoned field to stock up for the coming winter. They were ambushed, and over 60 of them were killed.
                    The Great Swamp Fight was another key battle. It began as an expeditionary force of over a thousand men from the Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies (150 of who were Pequot and Mohegan) attack a Narragansett fort on December 19, 1675. Although the Narragansett were neutral in the war, the English distrusted and disliked them because they had been known to provide shelter and food to the Wampanoags. A large battled ensued, and when the English gained the upper hand, they burned down the fort, a huge structure (being several acres in size) housing not only vital food supplies but also some 300 women, children, and elderly (those who could not fight), who subsequently burned to death. In all, some 70 Englishman died. The Narragansett were now forced into the war.
                    Metacom’s forces, despite their disadvantages, provide a serious threat to the colonists and make some key achievements in their war cause. On March 12, 1676, they manage to attack Plymouth Plantation, proving that they could penetrate deep into enemy lines and bring the fight home to the English. Also, on March 29, 1676, they burn Providence (Rhode Island’s capital) into the ground.
                    The tide begins to shift, however, in favor of the English following the killing of Canonchet, the chief of the Narragansett in April of 1676. The Narragansett are completely defeated soon after.
                    Metacom now became a fugitive as almost all his allies deserted him, losing the will to fight; he remained indomitable – even after his son and wife were sold off as slaves in Bermuda (Abbott, 356).  Finally, on August 12, 1676 Metacom himself was killed by a praying Indian called John Alderman via shot to the head. He was subsequently beheaded, drawn and quartered. His head was displayed on a pole in Plymouth for over 20 years. The fight was essentially over. Some minor fighting continues until April 12, 1678 when a treaty at Casco Bay was signed.
        So what? Why should we care? Well, first, unbeknownst to many, this war is one of the bloodiest and costliest of American history. Only 400 Wampanoags survive the war. 5,000 Native Americans died (40 percent of their population). Two and a half thousand Englishmen die (about five percent of the total population). In fact, percentage-wise, this is the bloodiest war ever for the English in the Americas. Moreover, as is stated on The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, after the war, Edmund Randolph, sent to assess the damage, reported to England that “twelve hundred homes were burned, eight thousand head of cattle lost, and vast stores of foodstuffs destroyed” (“1675-King Philip's War”).
        The war was also foretelling of future Native American conflicts, such as the French and Indian Wars and Wounded Knee.
        This war was particularly important because it allowed the English to expand their boundaries without restriction, which later became American expansionism; a precedent to follow was set, if you will. For Native Americans, this struggle serves as something to look back on and claim as their own, an instance where Native Americans fought back instead of conceded.
        Lastly, Metacom’s struggle is important because it symbolizes what I like to call the “Spirit of Dissent.” He lost in his struggle but that is not what is important. He fought to end injustice and preserve his people’s identity and culture, their way of life, despite the almost certainty of defeat. He fought because he knew that some things are worth fighting for.


        Works Cited
        Abbot, John. History of King Philip, sovereign chief of the Wampanoags Digital Scanning Inc. 2001. Fordham University Library Catalog. Ebrary. Fordham U Lib. April 27, 2010. <http://site.ebrary.com.avoserv.library.fordham.edu/lib/fordham/docDetail.action?docID=5000335>.
        Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States of America. New York: Harper, 1999.

        1675-King Philip's War.” The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut. 2007. April 27, 2010. <http://www.colonialwarsct.org/1675.htm >.