Thursday, December 14, 2006

 

Section 11: Chapters 92-94

The island that Pi comes across is absolutely amazing. If I have have transported to a beautiful place by language, this is a hundred times better at least.
I love green; I love nature, so full of vibrant life, and I love far-removed paradises where I can imagine myself living, my body and my mind preserved for thousands of years solely by the vitality emanating from the growth around me.
To me, that is paradise. A beautiful, remote island of lush green-ness and vibrant colors of the rainbow splashed upon everything. A place where the imagination can roam free, and life's troubles disappear into the depths of the warm, sapphire ocean, and are drowned by by the colors so radiant and numerous that no words ca describe them.
I can imagine plants, both rare and exotic, that no one has ever seen before, air so clean and clear that every breath is a joyous event, water so pure and untainted that you can see the glorious fish swimming freely at its deepest, animals so alive and lovely that you can spend your whole day gazing at them, running, playing, jumping, and you can't hep but think that maybe, just maybe, life is perfect.
My island is such a place that your lips are always curved upwards in a smile, and your soul soars with the eagles through light, wispy clouds. It's a place where no frown or look of anger has ever been seen, nor sadness ever felt.
It's a place of perfection, a place of peave and tranquility and reflection. And, best of all, it's my place, untouched by others, protected from the evil, decay, death, sorrow and hurt that plague our natural world, and best of all, it's saved eternally for me and the select few I choose to share it with, just as each person's special place is saved for them and theirs. I love my island, and Pi's reminds me of it a lot.

I was just thinking about how cool it would be to draw, design and program my actual island into a sort of game - a game in which just abotu anything is possible (swimming, climbing trees, introducing new species of plants and animals, creating a family, and interacting in millions of other ways).

"The island was Gandhian: it resisted by not resisting" (pg 300). This is sometimes the best solution: Don't fight back, or go offensive, nor defensive, but just don't even acknowledge negative thoughts that enter the mind. This isn't always the best way though, as nothing is conquered this way, but sometimes, it is the only way to avoid being crushed.

On page 301, Pi talks of his idea that the island isn't anchored to the bottom of the ocean, but rather is a floating mass of algae, a true 'living island'. I would like to research this and see what I can find.

The deadly danger of the island was surprising, to say the least. Haha, my island certainly doesn't have acidic algae. Anyway, I don't quite understand why Pi decided to leave the island. Though it can't be stood upon at nightm the rest of the time it is perfect, and people normally sleep at night anyway. What suddenly changed his attitude toward the island? The teeth? He's eaten human flesh before, so that shouldn't bother him. Was is the prospect of never being found? Nope, he said himself that the island might make itself to land, thereby saving him. If not these, then what?

Update:
He would rather search for land and people than live a half-life of "physical comfort and spiritual death". This is another theme in the book. Pi decides that life is more than nice scenery and good food; life requires a spiritual aspect as well. However good our lives seem, they amount to death without God.

It was really sad the way Richard Parker left Pi. I can understand Pi's sorrow. His only friend, his only family, gone, with no words of gratitude or farewell spoken. Gone forever. That is a sad thing, very sad.

I agree with Martel when he says, "It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go" (pgs 316-317).
When things are left hanging, left uncompleted, we can only move so far ahead in life before having to come back and deal with those things which were left behind.

I like how martel includes in the book Pi's 'Thank You' to all the kind people who helped him when he landed. Though short and simple, it was well-done.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

 

Section 10: Chapters 86-91

I can almost feel the disappointment, anger and helplessness of being stuck in the middle of the ocean, having a tanker motor past me, a flare aim incorrectly and be rendered useless, and the tanker continuing on its way, oblivious to the fact that I'm RIGHT beside it.
This has to be one of the worst feelings ever. I still wonder why he didn't just set off another flare. Was he out? Did he figure that the crew wouldn't be able to see it anyway? I may never know.

Pi's feelings toward Richard Parker have continued changing. At first, he admired and respected him because he was a tiger, then he was angry at, and deathly afraid of him because of the danger he presented to Pi's own life. Slowly the fear diminished with Pi's training regime and now, as the tanker disappears into the horizon, Pi loves Richard Parker. He loves him for the complany he offers, for the interest he provides. He loves him because he is a friend, an unknowing friend.

I was interested in the dream rag and Pi's contemplation times. I try to do the same thing occasionally, but I have a wandering mind and can't stay inactive for so long.
I know, however, that dreaming is a necessary act. It allows our mind to work out our problems in a fictional way so we can apply the solutions in our nonfictional lives. Daydreaming is the same, and they say it is actually very healthy and beneficial to daydream. I'm definitely a daydreamer.

The trash was disgusting. But, he got one good thing from it: a bottle to put a message in. Even if it never reaches anyone, it will be something for him to think about.
Actually, I'd like to put a message in a bottle sometime, just for the fun of it. It would be awesome if I actually got a reply.

The shark would be amazing to see. I would be scared, but at the same time, bedazzled. Twenty feet long, deadly, and graceful. A tiger shark. That's something I would like to see..from a distance, preferably. (pg 265)

I would, if it were I in Pi's position, have to say that one of the worst things that happened was that my pens ran out. I'm a reflective person, and if my life were threatened daily and my survival a true miracle, I would write like mad. Not being able to write my thoughts and feelings on paper would be torture.

I'm going back a little bit, to Section 9, and I wonder, how could Pi and Richard Parker be so constipated? From what I understand, the solar stills produce a total of 8 liters of water. That's plenty for the two of them. The only problem I can think of is a lack of fiber. Other than that, there should be no reason for them to be dehydrated.

Chapter 90 is odd, but I can understand how that would happen when a person is half-dead. Hallucinations and other strange occurences would take hold of the mind.
Like daydreaming, with I talked about earlier, your mind would try to fix all of the problems that you're facing, but near death, it would be much more urgent, so the would (I'm just guessing of course) solve problems in the most powerful way it can: by making fiction seem like reality.

I would really like to try coconut yam kootu (pg 271). It sounds really good. I'm actually going to find a recipe for it. And, I'll try to find out what coconut chutney and mint chutney are.

The whole food part was hilarious. Talking about figs and how many figs he has and Pi wondering if he can have some. The other voice talking about different types of meat and how good they taste. The two say some funny things, especially when they tell the story of the banana.
"Once upon a time, there was a banana and it grew. It grew until it was large, firm, yellow and fragrant. Then it fell to the ground and someone came upon it and ate it" (pg 278). That's a funny story, a very funny story. [Apparently, I was as mad as the character in the book. That doesn't seem so funny anymore. Lol]

Then, the other person jumps onto Pi's boat and attempts to strangle him. Pi thinks it's just an overzealous hug. The person steps on the floor and Richard Parker eats him.
Pi gets his sight back from crying and rinsing his eyes. He begins eating strips of the dead man's flesh.

*Update: I found coconut yam kootu, only it is called erisheri in the recipe I found. It looks really good, and I'm like to try it sometime.

*Update: I don't think the other person was blind. I think he said he was blind so he could trick Pi into letting him come close enough to eat Pi. It almost worked, but then he stepped into Richard Parker's territory, who responded by eating him. A little ironic, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

 

Life of Pi Essay

Cody Chance                                                      Nov 9/05
Life of Pi Essay


     A theme found in Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is that whatever one’s physical condition may be, it is really his or her spiritual health that matters.  
     
The first setting, the algae island upon which Pi Patel finds himself after quite a while at sea, is, though it may seem lovely, is really devoid of good.  With its lush green ‘trees’ and vegetation, Pi at first doesn’t even believe that the island is real.  He says, “My foot entered the sea…I stretched.  I expected the bubble of illusion to burst at any second.
“It did not.  My foot sank into clear water and met rubbery resistance…I put more weight down.  The illusion would not give…Still I did not sink.  Still I did not believe” (Life of Pi, pg 286).     This island is so beautiful, especially after so long at sea, that Pi cannot believe that it is real.  This is heaven to him, at least for a while.  The algae, he realizes, is delicious, and he begins eating it almost constantly.  Pi soon ventures inland, meets the island’s inhabitants, millions of meerkats, and falls in love with them.  After a few nights in the boat, he decides to sleep in the trees, where he realizes how cute and cuddly the meerkats, who sleep with him, are.
Pi later realizes that the island isn’t all that it seems.  When he is first getting used to the island and its luxuries, Pi describes his day like this, “I passed the day eating, resting, attempting to stand and, in a general way, bathing in bliss” (pg 289).  His days are spent enjoying the physical comforts of his new home, and not relying on God for sustenance, and strength, and hope.  On the boat, he prays regularly (five times a day, plus spontaneous prayers throughout), but on the island, he rarely looks to God for any reason (praise, worship, thanksgiving, asking, etc).  Because he is no longer in need of anything, and his life is going ‘great’, he doesn’t talk to God like he did before.
He first notices that the island isn’t perfect when he discovers the powerful acidity of the algae, which kills and digests fish for the island, and which is harmful to any living creature that touches it after the moon rises.  This is revealed to Pi when he ventures inland and finds a tree with ‘fruit’.  After peeling the leaves off the outside, he discovers a human tooth, and another in a second ‘fruit’, and another, and another, until he unravels thirty-two teeth, and infers that a human being had died in that tree and was digested by the acid, leaving only his or her teeth preserved, at least for a while.  Pi sees several things.  First, the algae isn’t as great as it first seemed to be.  He says, “The radiant promise it offered during the say was replaced in my heart by all the treachery it delivered at night” (pg 313).  He then recalls, “By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken.  I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island” (pg 313).  His belief is that the evil of the island outweighs the good, and that life without God is nothing.

Pi’s life on the boat, although physically taxing, keeps him in tune with God and himself.  From the time Pi leaves the Tsimtsum, he is faced with physical difficulty, ranging from salt-water boils, to constipation, to the threat of death by a tiger, to cold, to starvation, to dehydration, to many other ailments.  But, through it all, he continues to pray regularly, and must petition God in order to make it through.  He remembers the desperation he felt after such a long time away from God, saying, “It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was, in the throes of unremitting suffering, I should turn to God” (pg 315).  He had been spiritual since he was young, and the island removes him temporarily from his closeness to God, yet he quickly recovers and returns to his regular rituals of prayer and contemplation.

Pi discovers a powerful lesson through his time on the boat, his brief stay on the algal mass, and his return to life on the ocean.  He discovers that physical comfort is meaningless if God is not a part of everything one does.  He discovers that personally, he would rather die at sea with God at his side and in his life, than live a long, yet empty and Godless life on the carnivorous island.  The meerkats, after their generations-long life on the island, are oblivious to new dangers introduced to them (Richard Parker savagely mutilating hundreds or thousands of them daily).  They are so content with their lives that they don’t see danger when it arises, and many die for their naïvety.  The person in the tree also lived there for a long time, and consequently, died there too.  He or she was content with the life presented by the island, and died with nothing to show but thirty-two preserved teeth.  The same is true for everyone.  Anyone content with a life apart from God will die with nothing to show but a few bones, and a gravestone, which will eventually be forgotten as well.  But, people who decide to reside with God will leave the island of lush beauty and physical contentment, and go through rough times (physically, and mentally, and maybe even spiritually), but will one day meet up with their “own kind” (pg 313), other Christians, in heaven.  The idea the author is putting across in that a life of spiritual satisfaction, whether someone dies on that journey or not, is better than certain and absolute death due to a life of physical contentment apart from God.

























Works Cited

Martel, Yann.  Life of Pi.  Toronto, Ontario: Vintage Canada, a division of Random
     House of Canada Limited, 2002.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

Section 9: Chapters 71-85

First Written: Oct 18/05

Pi's written plan for training Richard Parker is interesting. It's amazing how smart Pi really is, bbut maybe a mixture of being brought up in a zoo and being stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no hope of rescue would give me a great amount of insight into the minds of animals, as well.
Again, though, I think of what could have been accomplished and what dread avoided had Pi decided to live in the locker. It is plenty big enough, safe from the tiger, and the sharks, and the weather, and it has all of his supplies except extra food and water when he ran out. He would've had to make certain that the door couldn't lock him inside, and yes, he would have to come out sometimes for food and water, but it's very unlikely that Richard Parker would be sitting over the locker door, drooling, waiting for Pi to emerge, especially since the tiger would be long dead by the time Pi ran out of food and water in the locker.

Pi is very observant to notice Richard Parker's pre-attack warnings. He notices what each sign means and figures out that he can avoid being attacked by leaving before Richard Parker lifts his paw. that is observance.

I'd like to note that Pi loves God. Whenever despair creeps up on him, he thinks of God, and hope returns. That's the way life is. After all the doubt, and fear, and sadness, and anger, and other negative feelings, hope always prevails. All things may be overcome, and though God may seem to disappear in the darkness, when we return to the light, we realize that God's still there, and that He always was.

It's really gross when Pi tries eating the tiger poop. I can't even imagine what that might be like. Actually, I have a hard time imagining eating raw fish and turles, and drinking turtle blood. Absolutely disgusting.

Chapter 78 is a little odd, and I don't understand most of it. I think that the final part is just saying that sometimes the smallest things make us happy, especially if happiness is hard to come by at a certain time.

The story about the shark and the tiger is cool. It would be kind of gross to see a fight like that, but kind of interesting too. How many people see teo species fighting that have never encountered one another before. That would be a story to tell all your friends.

I really like the part about Pi staring down the tiger. I know first-hand how long a cat can stare, but cats bore easily, although I don't know how true that is with a starving tiger.

Again, Martel brings up the point that people can get used to anything. It must be important to him to be mention it twice.

Pi comes to a realization in Chapter 82. He realizes that he eats the same way as Richard Parker: loud, unchewing, and frantically. He's turning into an animal.

The storm that comes upon Pi sounds terrible, and I would have hated to be on the boat during it. Good thing a whistle was saved so Pi can continue with his plan.

The whales are cool, especially the one right by the side of the boat. They are so big, yet so mellow and easygoing. I love whales, and it seems that Pi does too.

The lightning storm is cool. I love lightningm but I have to admit, I would be shaking uncontrollably if I was in the middle of the ocean, with nothing around, when lightning struck.

Chapter 75 is strange. The whole chapter is dedicated to hi singing "Happy Birthday" to his mom. Maybe he's saying that although he doesn't say it often, his family is still holds a place in his life and is in his mind constantly.

 

Section 8: Chapters 58-70

First Written Oct 17/05

If I had to guess, I would say that the British Royal Navy commander is sort of odd. I gather this from the way his book is written. It's not horrible or anything, but the section about jellyfish, and spiked fish, and ones with beaks, and ones that puff up, is a little strange in my view. Just a thought.

I find quite interesting the information pertaining to boats, wind,and waves. It was neat learning how they all fit together and the effect of an anchor on a boat in relation to wind direction.

I've laughed a little bit several times throughout the book, but I just came across the funniest thing so far. I couldn't help but laugh about Pi's urine. It's kind of disgusting, but it's funny.
He sees the same amount of urine in the beaker as rainwater had been, and thinks of drinking it.
He says, with a touch of humor it seems, " I hesitated...my urine looked delicious...like a glass of apple juice...and it was guaranteed fresh" (pg 190).

I never knew about solar stills until now, though I may have heard the term once or twice. Actually, I've read/seen/heard of basic solar stills built in the desert. You dig a hole, place saran over top, with it dipping down in the middle, and place a container underneath. The sun heats the ground, draws moisture to the top, evaporates it, and the moisture then runs to the middle and drips into the container. They are very interesting. I thought of making one myself, just to try it out. I think it would be a simple and fun experiment to carry out sometime.

Pi is very inventive. His raft, though not much, is well-built. I don't know if I would've thought of making a raft like it. Maybe I could, under the same circumstances. Who knows? I hope I am never able to knowingly answer that question.

I really like how the fish are described as little vehicles, their swimming patterns roads and highways, the sea a city. Lots of colorful descriptions really brought the scene to life for me.
I know, too, about walking through a forest. A busy, active person (most people, I'm afraid) would walk quicky through a forest and go, "Hey, a tree." The whole time they were in there, they saw a tree, and maybe a squirrel or two.
An introvert (like myself), a reflective person, might enter the same forest, spend more time, walk slower, and see more, much more. I would see the trees, and notice their beauty, their individuality. I would see mushrooms and slugs on the ground at my feet, not majestic or anything, but pretty in their own way, and full of life. I would realize that the bird calls were more than just that, but rather songs, an orchestra of myriad birds playing their masterpiece for all who are willing to stay near and listen. I would follow the squirrel with my eyes, and notice it being chased by another, across my path, spiralling up and down a tree, up another, hopping to yet another, and finally disappearing in the distance. I would see all this and more. I can relate to Pi's story of the sea life. I know what he means.

I kind of like the quote, "Stupidity has a price. You should show more care and wisdom next time" (pg 198).
It's blunt, but true. Stupidity does have a price, often a big one. But, how are we to learn if we don't make mistakes? The only thing is, is that when we do something stupid, we have to accept that it was stupid, think it through, and decide what to do instead the next we have to make a similar decision.

I'm wondering how big a flying fish is for it to feel like a tiger. It must be huge, or fast-flying. I hope Martel describes these things, but if he doesn't, I'll research it myself.

Update:
Well, Martel doesn't describe the size of the flying fish, so I looked it up. They can actually be pretty big: some can grow to over a foot long. Also, most can glide up to 100 meters, so that would require a fair amount of propulsion. That may explain Pi's reaction to being hit by one.

When it comes to Pi trying to kill the flying fish, again I can relate. I unintentially shot a bird once with a BB gun, and had to finish it off. It was horrible, and I decided I wouldn't shoot at live targets with BB guns anymore. I feel bad for Pi. Never before had he killed anything, and then, at sixteen, he's a 'murderer' as he calls himself.

I laughed again at one of Pi's remarks: "I felt I was beating a rainbow to death" (pg 205). That statement is just funny. I also like how he says that dorados are known for their "death-knell iridescence". That's interesting, and it's true (I looked it up). I wonder what the purpose of it is, though, being able to change colors while you're dying.

Like a thud across the head comes Martel's next theme, it attempts to hit so hard.
"It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even to killing."
That's a powerful statement, especially after Pi having only killed his second creature. But, it's true: we as humans can easily be desensitized, desensitized to violonce, to coarse language, to war, to racism, to other terrible things. It comes so easily, sometimes, that it's scary. Many of us watch killing for entertainment, listen to sick jokes for a laugh. Even sex has lost a lot of its sacredness in our society.
Why? Most of us are taught contrary to these things, yet we still lose our 'Oh my goodness, how terrible' attitude to them. It's sickening really. And, nobody really knows why people are so easily desensitized, but many of us know the effects, and that the only cure is God's grace.

227 days. that's a long time to survive in the miffle of the ocean, alone, except for a tiger which certainly isn't helping make life any easier. I like Pi's schedule that is written in the book. It's interesting to note how dedicated he is to prayer. I know that I could learn from that level of devotion.

The salt-water boils he talks about would be horrible, and there's little one could do about them in the way of prevention, or healing. Stay dry. that's all. And, that's not an easy task under the circumstances.

I don't know for certain if the author meant it spiritually, but that is the way I take it. That is, the part about the commander assuming the castaway knows his/her way to find direction, latitude, longitute, etc.
I thin that sometimes we as Christians witness this way. Many Christians, including myself, have been brought up with Christianity and the Bible, and know the spiritual lingo, but can't understand the blank look on the non-believer's face when we use the terms. We sometimes assume that they know all the background stuff and we just have to fill them in on the details. But, as I've heard, "We must give them the milk of Truth before we can feed them the meat of the Word", or something to that effect. We have to give them the basics before we can move on to the advanced stuff.

I quite enjoyed reading about Pi's hunting methods. They are interesting, as many things in the book are. His having to fight dirty to catch fush, having to tie ropes around turtles to haul them into the boat, it's all so realistic.
I'm really getting drawn into the story, which Martel has so masterfully pieced together. His themes are strong and persuasive, and his means of introducing them, though at times sneaky, are powerful. His descriptions give a sense of being there with Pi, or possibly being Pi yourself. It is a great book so far.

I'm not sure how Pi knows that he can eat all those sea creatures under the raft. It's possible that the manual says so, because if it doesn't, I don't know if I would be risking eating some poisonous snail or something.

The details of Richard Parker's behaviors and favorite positions, and the like, reveal something: we can learn much from and be fascinated by life if only we take the time observe the finer points.

"No, humanity and its unreliable ways could not be counted upon" (pg 221). Another theme statement, I would say. humanity is unreliable and can't be counted on, not even ourselves. We can only count on God. He is unchanging, thus He is always reliable.

I must admit, I was slightly repulsed by the killing of the sea turtle, the severing of arteries, and the slicing open of the shell. I refused to even picture the squirting blood, and thge drinking of it.
It was kind of funny, though, that the head continued trying to breathe and see even after being removed from the rest of the body, and that the flippers continued flipping.
I've seen the strength of animal life. The robin I shot took quite a while to lie still, and a steelhead my dad caught a long time ago, I swear, actually had a steel head. He clunked it against a rock innumerable time, and it wouldn't die. I don't even know how he finally finished it off.
Animals are tough. Humans are really one of the weaker species in many ways. Our flesh is weak. Only our minds have any chance of making us survive. and, it certainly doesn't continue thinking after head-body separation.

 

Section 7: Chapters 48-57

First Written: Oct 16/05

The story of Richard Parker's name and the mix-up is funny. Personally, I like the name Richard Parker for a tiger.

I was surprised to find out that the boat is twenty-six feet long. Before this was mentioned, I pictured the boat to be ten, maybe twelve feet, with a boy hanging, suspended from an oar for fear of being eaten by a hyena several feet away. It made little sense, but a larger boat didn't even cross my mind.

It is amusing how Pi says that it was only when he lost all hope that he felt better. But, it's true. I know it is. When things are going bad, we sometimes begin to act funny, doing and saying odd things, which in turn makes the situation, or our attitude, or maybe both, even worse. It's only when we give up, knowing that we can do nothing about it that we revert to our normal ways and get on with life. Of course, I don't mean to say that we should ever lose hope, but the truth is, some things we just can't change.

I found another theme in the story. Chapter 50 is all about how we often see little things but never really notice them or at least not for a long time. But, when we do, we realize how amazing, or useful, or beautiful those little things can be. This applies to many things: Little odd-and-ends that I keep in my room that mom wants me to throw away, trees and other flora that we finally realize are beautiful gifts from God, people who seem pretty ordinary until something they do or say sparks something in us and we see that they are more than we first imagined them to be. They're special, they're unique, and you want to get to know them better.
Specifically, Martel is pointing to something slightly different, though. He reveals it with his last sentence of Chapter 50. It reads, "How true it is that necessity is the mother of invention, how very true" (pg 154).
Sometimes it's only out of necessity, out of desperate need, that we realize the importance of something that was previously 'just another blob in the world'. Necessity often sheds new light on old things.

I love the way that Pi explains how he eats and drinks. How everything he ingests is like a mouthful of heaven. I love it. I love how he details the complete contents on his "treasure chest". I have to say that Martel is a good author, although I keep finding grammar mistakes which he didn't just miss, but that he actually didn't even realize are mistakes (commas and semi-colons, mostly).

The description of Richard Parker is magnificent. His pose is detailed, his appearance is also, even his length and his teeth.
Another thought on the tiger is what Pi's going to do about him. All the other meat is gone. The zebra's dead, the orangutan's dead, the hyena's dead, even the rats, flies and cockroaches are dead.
I'm guessing from the long explanation of lion tamers and their methods that Pi will attempt to gain mastery over Richard Parker, as he did over the hyena for a short time. But, I don't know how well that will hold up when the tiger becomes hungry. Hunger, of course, changes many things.

Pi's idea to make a raft is a good idea in some ways, but I wonder what is wrong with the locker in the bow of the boat. Would it not make a good shelter? The tiger couldn't get in, sharks couldn't get in, and Pi could get food and water, as well as other supplies, at need. It would be a lot better than spending most of his time on the raft. The only thing he would have to do is put lifejackets around the locker door, or smash the lock off to make sure he didn't get stuck inside.

I really enjoyed reading about Pi's plans for ridding himself of Richard Parker. One of my favorites is his plan to kill him with syringes. That would be a funny sight: a boy trying to jab six morphine syringes into a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Yes, that would be a funny sight indeed.
I also like "Plan Number Five: Poison him, set him on fire, electrocute him. How? With What?" I thought that was amusing.
My favorite, though, is his last plan, the one he chooses: wait him out. Let nature kill him. Lack of food and water means lack of energy and eventually, lack of life altogether. A good plan, I would say.

Update:
Well, it seems Pi has suddenly decided not to go with Plan Six. He's not thinking. He figures that the tiger can outlive him. He believes hunger will drive Richard parker to attack him on the raft. Richard Parker can swim to the raft, yes; Richard Parker can walk through walls or break metal to get into the locker, NO!

Another them I found portrayed is in Chapter 56. It is that fear is man's worst enemy. We have few weapons that can defeat it, and only with real effort. They are hope and trust, and fear fights hard with them after going through disbelief and reason. Fear fights hope with doubt. Fear ruins us, and we can't avoid it, or it will only get worse. We actually have to defeat it to make it go away.

I was right. Pi decides to train Richard Parker. He decides to use the whistle as his training whip, and life as the reward.
I feel that it would be a good, albeit extremely risky, option as a last resort, but that is not the case. Living in the locker offers Pi the best chance of survival.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

 

Section 6: Chapter 37-47

First Written Oct 15/05

I find it interesting that Pi was trying to save Richard Parker, the tiger. But, I think most people would attempt that at first. It would be instinct: save the animal. It wouldn't register right away that that animal will likely try to kill you after you save it.
It is also sort of ironic that after saving the tiger, Pi himself jumps overboard. That's kind of funny.

It seems a little coincidental that Pi getsup because of the noise, and Ravi, the one who would normally have gone looking for adventure, stays in bed.

I liked the description of the storm. I especially like the part where he says, "Nature can put on a thrilling show."
Pi is actually excited by the strom, not realizing that he is soon going to be nearly killed in it (though not by it).

One of my favorite parts is right at the end of Chapter 38, when he says, "Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts."
He figures they're going to help him, and they do, just not in the way he might have wanted or imagined.

And, I wonder, how did Pi lose his lifejacket? Falling into water, the only way to lose a lifejacket is to raise your arms above your head as you hit the water, and Pi didn't land in water; he landed in a boat. The chances of losing his jacket, then are zero.

Update:
I figured out the last question. He wasn't wearing the lifehjacket. He was just holding it. That's how he lost it.

Martel reveals that the sailors weren't trying to save Pi so much as were trying to use him as hyena bait. They planned for the hyena to eat Pi, then the two of them could jump in the boat, and throw the 'now not hungry' hyena overboard. They would still have one problem: Hyena's don't need to be hungry to be dangerous!

Pi has three animals on the boat with him (the boat is 22 feet long, 8 feet wide). He has a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan. When the orangutan gets into Pi's lifeboat, Pi grabs the net from the bananas, but leaves the bananas themselves to sink. The net, he says, will help him a lot, later. He also says that he would later kick himself for leaving the bananas.

Note:
I've always called that type of primate an o-rang-u-tang (tang and tang both sounded like the rang in boomerang). I just looked up the word in the dictionary, and found out that the word is actually pronounced
o-ranj-uh-tan. I've never heard it said that way before, but I'll try to remember it.

I find interesting the descriptions of the appearance, food choices, and mannerisms of the hyena. I'm not sure exactly how the hyena will play a part, but it will, and I don't think it will be a small part.

It's kind of neat to read about the hope Pi has of being rescued and reunited with his family.
I can think of few people who would have such optimism in those circumstances.

Gross is the mauling of the zebra by thge hyena. First, the hyena eats a leg off the zebra, then the innards, and finally, after a few more assaults, the zebra dies.

I really like the way the end of Chapter 46 is written. I like the whole section about the loss of family and what it means to him. I don't mean to say that I like that he loses his family or anything sick like that, but thatit was well-written and full of emotion and feeling.

Pi loses all hope. The zebra and orangutan are dead, and he figures that he's next. Worse still, he finds out that Richard Parker is still on the boat. Will the two predators fight it out, or gang up on Pi and kill him? I don't know.

There is a lot of action in this section. In fact, basically the first, other than the tiger eating a goat. I didn't find much of a them-like component, though.

 

Section 5: Chapter 29-36

First written Oct 13/05:

Pi talks about the reason people move: to seek a better life than the one that came before.
Isn't that what motivates most people in most areas of their lives? "Will this make my life better?" they ask. This way of thinking may help in the short-run, but it will do nothing for us in eternity. Only believing in, and working for the Son of God, Jesus, will protect us on the day of judgement.

It's odd how Pi talks of Mr. Kumar and Mr. Kumar, the teacher, and the baker. I wonder why he does this. Is he going to compare them, show how similar they are? That may explain why he makes them seem almost like the same person. Or maybe, he's just trying to show that everyone, no matter how different they may seem in beliefs, and culture, and career, is basically the same as everyone else.

I don't quite understand what the author is getting at when he says, "That measure of madness that moves life in strange but saving ways" (pg 95).

Update:
He's saying that there is some irrationality or madness that is strange and unexplainable, but that sometimes saves us. For example, you do something that you don't normally do (for no apparent reason), and later on, you look back at that incident and are thankful for the way it played out, thinking of the consequences if you had've done your usual thing instead.

I noticed a few things that the author wrote:
1.) He says that putting animals to sleep and doing tests is cruel
2.) He also says, "You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it" (pg101).

The first I disagree with, and find it odd for him to be saying this. Pi tries to (and succeeds in my case) show us that life in a zoo is really better than life in the wild, because the animal then has easy access to shelter, food, and medical care. Then Martel says that giving an animal medical care is cruel. How does that make sense???
The second I both agree and disagree with. When things don't go the way we would have liked, we can't just give up. But, also, things can change when we ask God for help. We don't have to suffer through everything. But, if He says no, then we must accept our straw and not despair or complain.

Martel writes about his introduction to Pi's family (if they can be called introductions, especially since he didn't even know those people existed). I don't know why Martel writes about this, or why Pi never told Martel about his family. It seems odd.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

Section 4: Chapters 15-18

Chapter 15 sort of bothers me. I don't know where the author is going with the whole "Pi belongs to three different religions" thing, but I guess I can't judge him until I've read the whole book. I just hope he doesn't go where I can't follow. By that, I mean that if he begins encouraging multiple religions or something like that, I may have difficulty sympathizing with what he has to say.

Chapter 16 isn't any better. He compares Hindus to Muslims to Christians, and, in effect, says that they are all basically the same. I disagree completely. They may have a few similarities, but they are VERY different.

Yann Martel's long, drawn-out descriptions are becoming a little monotonous rather than adding extra color to the story. This is actually quite interesting, and strange. Normally, I would say, "The more descriptive the descriptions, the better." But, right now, everything he says is chock full of descriptions. I hope that I can allow those descriptions to fulfill their purpose in the story, and not let them get in the way of enjoying what I'm reading.

The next few chapters were a little different and I'm beginning to see where Martel might go with Pi's multi-religious ideology. Pi is running into problems by attempting to follow all three religions (Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism); I hope he chooses correctly.

I don't know what to think now that I've finished Chapter 28. I don't like how the boy is mixing Christianity with other religions. Christianity clearly teaches that it is the only true religion, although surely, other religions have things to offer. For example, Muslims are very, very devoted to God, and that is, of course, a good trait, and can be used by Christians in our faith, as well. Also, Buddhists are usually very self-disciplined, some being able to sit, meditating for hours or even days. God would do great things if Christians meditated on His Word day and night, and prayed regularly (continuously) for all things.

Monday, October 03, 2005

 

Section 3: Chapters 8-14

Pi's father taught his two sons a lesson. He started out powerfully, making them watch a tiger maul and kill a goat. He then went on to show them the other animals of the zoo, giving the children short stories about people that had been hurt or killed by each animal. He ended his lesson by showing them the guinea pigs, and told them that they were only safe because they had been domesticated. In the wild, they would have chewed their fingers off.
What does all this have to do with the reader? Maybe Martel is saying that lessons often have to be given to keep people on track and/or safe. Sometimes, lessons are difficult to learn, but these oft have the greatest and longest-lasting impact..
I know this applies to my life, even, and one instance, especially, comes to mind. Several years ago, I did something really stupid, was caught and apologized to everyone involved. In the process, I ended up confessing to my parents that I had done other stupid things, and from that point on, I have avoided all those bad habits. A difficult lesson taught me a lot, and protected me from a dangerous path.
What I've gathered from today's reading is that knowing an animals - any animals - reasoning and behaviors gives us an advantage over that animal. It provides insight so we can dominate them and protect ourselves from them.
This applies equally to both lesser animals and humans. Knowing the mind of man allows us to protect ourselves from dangerous people, or better yet, change their thoughts and actions by changing certain determining factors before they become dangerous.
For example, if all serial killers are such because they heard the word 'kill' and/or its variations more than 3032 times, regardless of which kind of home they grew up in, or friends they hung out with, or religion they followed, we would no longer have serial killers on our streets. We would decrease the number of average occurrences of the word 'kill' so that in a span of 100 years, it would be nearly impossible to hear the word the specified number of times, and then, nobody would grow up to be a serial killer.
Now, this same formula could be applied elsewhere, as well. Think of the problems we could solve in the world, just by knowing the value of each variable in the formulas:
factor A + factor B (x times) + factor C (y times) = thief
factor F + factor D = terrorist
etc, etc
So, maybe Martel is saying that we should learn more about the human psyche in order to learn WHY people are troubled in our societies, and change those things, before something REALLY bad happens.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

 

Section 2: Ch 1-7

Already I'm enjoying Life of Pi, and I've barely begun. First of all, this is the first book in a while that I've wondered about more than 1 or 2 words, and that was really good to see. Most of the names of animals in the zoo I've never heard of; I might have guessed the author was making them up if I didn't know he had been to India and had done his research.
There are animals such as
One-wattled Cassowaries: Large flightless birds from the Australia area, with a large bony projection on their heads
Nanday Conures: A popular species of conure, related to parakeets. They have black heads, and their feathers are tipped with blue
There are also many other words I had to look up, including
maharaja: a king or prince of India, above a rajah; sometimes used as title for this person
discordant: Not being in accord; conflicting
peepul: Indian fig tree. Has broad leaves with long projections. They are considered sacred to Buddhists. Also called Bo tree.
gulmohur: A flowering tree or shrub with flame-orange flowers. Tropical
jacaranda: A heavy, dark-colored, hard wood tree, with streaks of black. It has purple flowers.
ashram: A usually secluded residence of a religious community and its guru
counter-obstetric (a little difficulty figuring this one out): having to do with being unhelpful and/or harmful to a woman before, during, or following pregnancy (Not sure what this has to do with an old man and gravity)
lecherous: Feeling or devoted to sexual love or desire; lustful, lewd

Not only does the wording in this book amaze me, but the themes I believe I'm seeing. I'll have to watch and wait to see if they are supported, but I came across several of these in the first 4 chapters.

1) (pg 14, half way down)

"The more you look, the more you see."

I'm taking this to mean just what it says: The longer and more deeply you consider and contemplate something, the more you can glean from it. It seems both logical and insightful, and I will continue watching for more clues to support or expand this thought.

2) (pg 16, half way down)

"But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it."

I read this, and felt something like Martel's eyes sneaking a peek in my direction to see if I took the hint.

I recall reading in the author's note something about readers not using their own imagination to picture things, but rather relying on author's to fill every little detail and color in for them, and that authors are not giving the readers the opportunity to do so. Well, it seems that Yann Martel is taking his own advice, and is challenging the reader to use their imagination. He's saying, "Here's the outline, and the numbers, and a big box of crayons, now you use them."

The other part of the quote is, "Language founders in such seas." Even in my own personal experiences (as short as they may be), I understand the truth of that statement. There are times when no words can express the magnitude nor beauty of what my senses are taking in. And, no picture can grasp the wholeness of it all, either.
I remember a moment when I was in Cuba on a Missions trip, looking over a valley. That's it, just a valley full of trees. Not even a river was there to make it interesting. But, it was interesting, and amazing, and beautiful, all at the same time. I took a picture with my digital camera (actually, several, if I remember correctly), and when I got home again 2 weeks later, I attempted to explain what I had seen that day, but I couldn't convey what I had really felt as I looked down from that mountain place.
I have made and am making an attempt to use language more efficiently. English too often fails me when I need it most: Too many words, too little meaning. So, I moved on to French. But, even that's not perfect, so I'm going to work on my Spanish, and that's not all. I still intend to learn at least parts of Greek, Latin, German, and possibly several Native American languages. I want to do all that for one purpose (maybe two). I'm searching for the best words to express all the thoughts and feelings of the human mind, especially my own.

I'm beginning to think that Martel has MANY things to teach his readers by retelling the story of Picine (Pi) Molitor Patel. The author has just attempted to teach the reader a lesson about 'freedom' from the perspective of those involved: the animals. He says that life in the zoo, followed by a 'setting free' isn't such a great thing after all. He offers a comparison: Consider sitting at home, only to be rudely barged in upon and driven from your house by a stranger, yelling, "Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go!" Nobody would enjoy, nor put up with this ludicrous act, and would likely become very angry, and so it is with animals. Life in a zoo is likely better than life in the wild. Separated from predators, vaccinated against disease, sheltered, fed regularly, they are freer to live that way, than in the wild, where there are no such leniencies of life.

Martel ends his 'essay' on zoos with this: "I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both" (pg 21).

This is the first mention of religion, other than the Author's Note, and it is, to put it simply, short.
He doesn't start his story with theological debate, or religious jibber. He keeps it simple, not too invasive.
So far, my theory is being proved correct. It seems that Martel will enrapture his readers and give them little theme-like tidbits, enough to invade their mind, but not so much that he offends them and makes them throw up shields against invasion (putting the book down and never reading it again, for example). I might think of it like this: His tidbits he throws are like seeing a flash out of the corner of your eye. Distracting, but not angering.
He is also now mentioning Bible characters without introducing them. Personally, I find it a good tactic. The reader asks, "Who are these people?" Now they're willing to learn who they are and what they did.

Chapter 6: The second time a chapter has consisted of only an italicized description. The first was Chapter 2, which quickly showed us a small man. This second reveals 'him' as a cook, and described the look and smell, and feel of the man's food store. I don't yet know what they mean, but I will, soon, I believe.

Pi speaks near the end of the section of his dealings with his teacher, Satish Kumar, an atheist, and a kind man. Pi gives quite a long explanation about this man and their relationship. He describes the teacher as oddly shaped, "like two triangles, a small one, and then a larger one, balanced on two parallel lines" (pg 28, near the top). He also says he is very scientific and driven solely by reason. he gave up his belief in God because of childhood polio. He now calls religion 'Darkness'. Pi doesn't mind that Mr. Kumar is an atheist, although he does wonder how it's possible, and thinks of his rather like a "brother...of a different faith" (pg 31, half way down). But, Pi can't stand agnostics. He doesn't see how doubt can be one's life.

Another theme I seem to have notices it that a simple change in life can improve your life significantly. Piscine Patel is dubbed 'Pissing Patel', and made fun of endlessly by his classmates. Even his teachers seem to lazy to say his name properly.
Slightly more mature, and much brighter, 'Pissing Patel' took a new approach in secondary school, starting the year by introducing himself as Pi, like 3.14. The name change did more than stop the teasing. It made him popular, and if that weren't enough, some of his peers began giving themselves nicknames. Such names as Omega, Upsilon, Gamma, Lambda, and Delta began popping up around the school.
What's Martel trying to point at? Maybe that we too should make adjustments in our own lives. And, beginning to believe in God would certainly be an adjustment, wouldn't it be?

 

Section 1: Author's Note

1.)
We learn from this Note that writing fiction isn't just a sit-down-and-write sort of thing. It requires work, dedication, research, a spark of inspiration, and especially, an opening of ourselves so we may place our emotions in our story, in turn lending ourselves and our thoughts to our readers in a very real, and personal way.

-Even the best of authors will have struggles and can have an ineffective piece of work
-Fiction builds itself around our deepest feelings and experiences

2.)
I believe that God can move people to believe in Him in any number of ways, including this story. Often, literature is one of the most effective mediums through which you can cause someone to believe in something (whether you believe it or not)

I think that the author, Yann Martel, will relate so closely to the reader that they are open to listen to just about anything the author has to say. Once this point has been reached, I believe the author will tell such miraculous tale about Pi's dealings with God that it will be nearly impossible for the reader to disagree.

3.)
a-
I agree that fiction is a selective transformation of reality. Who would read a story that is not realistic in any way? Not the characters, not the laws of life or the universe, not the setting. Nobody would read such a story. Most fiction is merely a twisting of reality in order to relate truths to the reader in a way that will appeal to him/her. How do you tell a physicist a truth about athletics? You take the essential parts of the story of the athlete and place them into a new story about a physicist who had to run around in order to find out the Grand Formula (or some such thing). Then, and only then, will you really have the physicist’s attention.

b-
Artists of all sorts are effective and essential psychologists. They are not removed from the problems and realities of life, but can put these truths into a meal that is appetizing to a certain group (visual artists paint or draw pictures, authors write stories, poets write poetry, while musicians write and play music and lyricists apply poetry to music, etc)

The average person has difficulty putting their deepest thoughts and feelings into something they can grasp. That is where artists come in; they take roaming thoughts and feelings and chew them, and chew them, and chew them... and finally give them to others in a more digestible form.

 

In the Beginning

This is the second real blog site I've created, and I hope it goes well. The other is a personal blog, at http://wildnorth.blogspot.com. It is basically where I write whatever in order to sort out and decode my deep thoughts. This is done thus: "The longer and more deeply you consider something, the more you can glean from it" (Section 2: Ch 1-7, Me).
I also have a website of my own, www.freewebs.com/mysta02, which you may enjoy taking a look at. And, I always encourage input and feedback on all my work, so you can post on any of my three sites, or can e-mail me at mysta02@hotmail.com.
I give you full permission to use my work in whatever way you think appropriate, but please don't blame me if you get bad marks on a project for using my work.
Remember: "Stealing is not learning. And learning is life. Thus, theft may be likened unto death" (Me, I just thought it up).

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