edens paradise

La Reine des Neiges et quelques autres contes, par Hans Christian Andersen.(1805-1875).
Illustrés par Edmond Dulac.(1882-1953).
L'Édition d'Art
H. Piazza. Paris.
.1911.

Le jardin du Paradis

“La Fée écartant les branches de l'arbre se glissa dessous.”

My Beloved is Mine and I am His: 13x02 and Song of Solomon

One of the first things I wrote when I was brand new to the fandom was a short fic with Castiel reading and re-enacting sections from the Song of Songs to Dean. At the time, I thought it was too cheesy and trite to fit within the realm of Supernatural, and I deleted it in a bout of frustration. I am regretting that today like you wouldn’t believe.

I’m a bit of a bible nerd. I took a lot of theology and religion classes in my undergrad. That was nearly a decade ago though, so my current knowledge is a bit shaky. Here’s what I can recall about Song of Solomon that may or may not inform your reading of 13x02 and SPN in general.

A disclaimer: I am sick and drug addled, so please forgive any incoherent rambling. There is a lot of irrelevant gibberish, so I’ve tried to highlight the bits relevant to SPN.

To begin!

Solomon is the heir of King David (whom you may recall had a passionate same-sex relationship with Jonathan.) Solomon’s reign is idealized, much like David’s was, and it was under Solomon that the First Temple was built. Solomon is famous for his wisdom and his large concubine of women. Notably, he settled a dispute between two women who were fighting over a child. He offered to cut it in half, revealing the true mother who could not bring herself to see the child hurt. This bears resemblance to Jack’s situation right now, torn between two fathers.

Song of Solomon (also known as Song of Songs, or the Canticles) is often attributed to Solomon because he is mentioned. However, the text is dated much later, and certain Persian words and influences in the text suggest a post-exilic era as the earliest possible date. Some scholars date it even later.

Song of Solomon is part of the collection in the Hebrew Bible known as The Writings (or the Kethuvim). It’s the third major division in the Hebrew Bible, and one of the last to be adopted into canon. It’s a bit of a catch all category that contains vastly diverse content including poetic works (Psalms, Song of Songs), and wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes), to name a few.

Most of these writings (including Song of Songs) date to the post-exilic era. That is, after the Babylonian conquest, and during Persian rule. The nation of Judah perished in the fires that were set to Solomon’s temple. Post-exile, Judea was experiencing a theological crisis in the face of the apparent absence of Yahweh, or God. David’s dynasty has collapsed, and we see theological despair reflected in writings like Job and Ecclesiastes that ponder the problem of evil, the absence of God, and undeserved suffering. Song of Solomon, and other writings like it, were written at a time when things felt hopeless and there were fears that God has abandoned his people. It is oddly fitting then, that Jack should open to this particular part of the bible. 

The Kethuvim mark a shift in religious thought. Previous writings centred on an independent kingdom involved in international politics. After the fall of the temple, we see an exiled, diasporic religion now led by priests instead of divinely appointed kings. Religious leaders and writers had to adjust and re-envision their scriptural teachings. Gone was the simplistic thesis that equated prosperity with religious obedience and misery with sin. The authors of the books known as The Writings were questioning conventional scripture of the time and creatively refocusing their theology.

Persian rule also introduced new religious ideas, namely Zoroastrianism, which came to influence later Judeo-Christian ideas. Zoroastrianism viewed the world as dualistic, ruled by two opposing powers of good (light) and evil (dark) and had hierarchies of angels and demons. Until this time, most biblical literature did not give name or ranks to angels, nor did they depict satan as an actual autonomous figure. We have Zoroastrianism to thank for that, and its influence on biblical writings can start to be felt around the post-exile period (i.e. the time during which Song of Solomon was written). The book of Daniel, for example, names the angel Gabriel, and the Book of Tobit names the demon Asmodeus. (In Tobit, Asmodeus is a jealous demon who kills each successive husband of Sarah on her wedding night and is later exorcised. He is someone who keeps lovers apart and keeps them from consummating their love.)

Songs of Songs is essentially a collection of erotic love poems. The book defies any easy interpretation or classification, and it stands out in stark contrast to the rest of biblical canon. It’s a completely unabashed, uninhibited celebration of sex, with little evidence to suggest that the lovers are married. They do not live together, and yearn intensely for one another when apart. It’s the subject of numerous feminist readings, as it’s one of few books of the bible to give a voice to women’s thoughts and feelings. Here, those are romantic and erotic feelings.

Don’t believe me? Read this:

My beloved thrust his hand into the opening,
and my inmost being yearned for him.
I arose to open to my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with liquid myrrh,
upon the handles of the bolt.
(Song of Solomon 5: 4-5)

This is some raunchy stuff for the bible! And all of this is sharply contrasted with the sexual ethos elsewhere in the bible which imposes harsh penalties for sexual misconduct, and places great emphasis on the institution of marriage. Deuteronomy (a book of the bible about sexual and social control) calls for the death penalty in many cases

There was understandably some debate as to whether this particular bit of writing warranted inclusion in the biblical canon of scripture. Rabbi Akiba was a key figure in the development of the Hebrew canon. While he argued strongly against the inclusion of certain books of the Apocrypha, he advocated for the Song of Songs, calling it the Holy of Holies. Its sanctity was preserved by interpreting it as an allegory for the love between Yahweh and Israel, and later by Christians as the love between Christ and the Church. Interestingly, God is not mentioned once in the entire book. (The only other book of the Bible where God is not mentioned even once is Esther.)

And yet, this book was called the Holiest of Holies. Love is championed here above all else.

I really don’t think we’ve seen the last of Chuck. Someone (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who!) pointed out the rainbow glare that happened in 13x01 when Dean was praying as a sign of God’s promise. (Edit: I’m an idiot. I reblogged the damn thing and it was just a couple posts down. It was @gneisscastiel who made the beautiful post about lens flares and pointed out the rainbow as God’s promise.)  The inclusion of Song of Solomon in 13x02, besides being a blatant callout to Dean and Cas, suggests this is also about God and his people. I’d also like to suggest that Song of Solomon is a book that asks us to think broadly about canon. What constitutes canon? How is it formed? And I do mean canon here in the sense not just of biblical canon, but of fandom canon. Who decides what canon is? Is there room in canon for outliers like the Song of Solomon? The answer, as the show has just demonstrated, should be a resounding yes.

Onto the destiel side of things, which I’m sure has been discussed already. Song of Solomon contains some of the most beautiful poetry in the Bible. It is full of similes and references to nature (and arguably Eden/Paradise). It is deeply rural and pastoral, with an appreciation of agriculture, nature, and animal life. The multiple reference to sheep in 13x02 were no coincidence, I’m sure. Castiel has long been associated with natural, rural things: flowers, bees, goats, fish, etc. (If the Void is depicted as a garden and Cas has been spending his time under apple trees, I’m going to lose my freaking mind.) Is he being associated with sheep now? As someone who has been led by God, other angels, duty, Dean, Jack… perhaps this is time for Cas to choose a direction for himself. Sheep and lambs in the bible are also frequently marked for sacrifice. They represent symbolic innocence, and in the New Testament, Christ is called the “Lamb of God.” I definitely think Cas is being set up as a Christ-like figure with his death and anticipated resurrection. If 13x02 made anything clear, it’s that Cas is the answer the whatever problem faces Dean, Sam, and Jack alike.  

Lamentations might have been a more appropriate choice for the episode. It’s also a book of poetry, but one that evokes pain and loss. But they chose instead to give us the book that celebrates love and hope amidst despair. That’s a choice that feel very deliberate, and makes me cautiously optimistic for Dean and Cas.

 In closing, here are some passages from Song of Solomon, and the ones I feel are most closely tied to a destiel narrative.


“You have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes.”
(Song of Solomon 4:9)

“Set me a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm…”  
(Song of Solomon 8:6)

“… For love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6)


“I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:2)

“My beloved is mine and I am his.” 
(Song of Solomon 2:16)

How to become a good student (again) 3: Yearn for friendship - not worship; not debasement

Hello, fellow ex-good student!

‘tis done! This beast just got longer and longer, so I decided to cut it down a bit for the sake of readability. But let me know if there’s something that was too vague - the nuance might have got lost in the editing process.

Alright, let’s get down to business (to defeat! The Huns!)! So, if you’re an ex-good student, I’m pretty sure that you know this static in your head, right? Whenever you really need to do something but you just can’t get up and do it, so you keep procrastinating even though you hate it and keep scrolling and scrolling or gaming and gaming and feel more and more guilty?

Well, it might not be the most immediate analogy, but for this post I want you to consider that what connects you and your subject of study is essentially a relationship and that this static is (among other things) an indicator of how screwed up your relationship is. Just like with real people, your relationships with subjects can either

  • prosper and bear fruit (me & Creative Writing)
  • become cold and distant (me & French)
  • or, worst of all, turn sour and actively harmful. (me & PE, back in school)

Now, nobody likes to hear that they’re relationship-ing wrong. And it is true that different approaches work for different people. But here are the counter-productive relationships that I’ve personally ended up in and I’m gonna show you how I got into and out of them, so you can try to do the same. Maybe it’ll help you lift that static from your head.

Side-Note: Always remember that, since your subjects are just that (subjects), and not real people, you are the only one who can actually mend these relationships and, conversely, you are the one who screwed them up in the first place (probably with good intentions, though).

So, we’ll take them in this order:

1) Overeager Debasement

2) Undereager Debasement

3) Worship


(Oh, and in case you wanna catch up:

Masterpost 

Part 1

Part 2)


1) Overeager Debasement

What is it?

The desire to do everything, perfectly, at the same time, right now. Not to limit yourself to just one field of study, but to master them all, to reign supreme above knowledge, to keep your mind wide open to new possibilities, similarities and contradictions.
You overvalue your own capacities and undervalue the needs and difficulties of your subject.
(also refer to the first post for this)

How did you get here?

(read picture from right to left)

So. Many. Possible. Reasons.

  • it’s a cage. The idea of doing just one thing for the rest of your life scares you and you feel imprisoned at the thought of it
  • you know that you could be outstanding if you applied yourself
  • you know that you could be even more outstanding if you became accomplished in multiple fields
  • you want to find connections between fields nobody’s ever considered before
  • you feel like you’ve wasted your last few years and need to catch up to others
  • you’re afraid that you’re not good enough
  • you’re afraid of being ignorant
  • you’re arrogant

No matter the reason (I’ve gone through them all), people caught in this state of mind shovel more and more onto their plate.
And then wonder why they can’t swallow it all.

What do you think you’re doing?

A labour of love, most likely. You think you love languages and sciences and athletics and programming and cooking and hanging out with friends and being alone and so you just want to do it all!
You don’t want to limit yourself! You don’t want to lose any time! But there’s just so much and you have so little energy and ugh, if only I wasn’t destined for greatness, then I could relax like other little people, but no, I need to keep pushing! In every! Direction! At the same! Time!

I know your delusion. I’ve been there. You imagine yourself to be that one perfect friend who gets up at 6am, watches the sun rise, does yoga, eats a healthy breakfast, goes for a quick run, comes back home, answers all correspondence, is artistic for a few hours, then scientific for a few hours, then social for a few hours and ends the day with tiny masterpieces in each area, goes out with friends or family to grab a healthy dinner and goes to sleep, happy and balanced :)

Well, you know what, my starry-eyed friend?

What are you actually doing?

You’re the mental equivalent of a social butterfly.
You’re being fucking disrespectful.

You’re always on the run and never able to really commit to anything, because you’ve already scheduled something else afterwards. You’re shallow, deluded, that one friend that always comes in running, screaming “Besties  ~ ♥” and everyone shifts uncomfortably in their seats and smiles a painful smile and humours you, because they know you mean well, but they also know that you know nothing about them. 
You’ve never been there for them ever, but always expect them to be there for you. Whenever they want to talk about themselves, you nod and then proceed to about yourself and your plans and “ohmygosh, this is so nice, we need to meet more often ~ ♥ “. But at least you mean well, so they’ve agreed to keep it simple and on the “The weather is nice today”-level with you. 

But here you are, wondering why you’re not making any progress.
Mysterious.

So what do I do?

Well, you need to go from this:

To this:

How? More on that below.


2) Undereager Debasement

What is it?

This stage is what happens when you notice that your lofty ideals from Overeager Debasement cannot be fulfilled. You turn bitter, hateful, cold. You think you’re a failure, you think you were too soft. Instead of wanting to be friends with everyone, you now want to rule over everyone, fuck what they want.

You’re burnt out. You’re done. You just want to get through these stupid classes and catch a goddamn break, goddamnit.

And you WILL get through. You’re too proud to do anything else. But you don’t really care about any of it.
You just want to make it.

How did you get here?

If you were a good student, you probably heard at some point or another that you were “different” and that your complex and mysterious ways were not understandable and definitely not achievable for your average classmate.

Most people who tell you this mean well. A few want to make fun of you, but most actually do mean it as a compliment. But they don’t know how dangerous it is to hear it again and again, because regardless of whether it’s true or not, you start to believe it.
You start to believe that somehow, you have a higher calling, a higher standard. And you start to long for that day when your high standards will be met - when you will go to that one mysterious class where everyone is just as eager as you are, where the “Oh, captain, my captain!”-teacher will spark a fire in your brain that will never go out and when your ominous “gifts” can finally be put to good use for the prosperous future of mankind.


And you work.

And work.

And the class never comes.

You feel the weight on your shoulders when teachers talk of “high expectations”, you feel it crush you a little bit every time your friends tease you about your genuine fear that you might not get an A, that you might lose it all, that your “gifts” could disappear and you’ll be stranded and useless and you put in the hours, you work your ass off to keep that high standard, all in the hope of having that one miraculous class that never comes.

I realized that that class would never come when I entered university.

University, I’d told myself, would be my Arcadia, my Eden, my academic paradise where all my hard work would be rewarded!
Instead, I only found more drudgery, more incompetent professors, more disinterested students and even more bureacracy. To say that I was “disappointed” would be putting it very lightly.

I became disoriented and disenchanted. I realized that I could get through most classes with half-assed effort, I was hardly ever challenged, I floated along and hated every second of it. I blamed my boring teachers, the imperfect system, the teachers who had given me hope only for me to watch it crash and go up in flames.

What do you think you’re doing?

Being badass, cool and detached, most likely.

You dream of yourself as a master and your subjects as slaves. They bow to your will, they dance to your tune, you command them with the snap of a finger.

“Look, you slave of the system”, you say, lying on a velvet sofa, “Look, at how it hardly takes any effort for me to pass these classes! Look at how I spend my time doing things I actually like and that are actually worth it, unlike these stupidly easy classes taught by stupidly incompetent professors in a stupidly screwed-up system! Look at me, being edgy and drowning in self-hatred because I can physically feel myself gliding off the rails that made me so “special” and becoming one of the average people in the masses, haha. Ha. Ha. Screw academia, but still give me good grades, amirite?”

I know your delusion. I’ve been there. You imagine yourself to be that one perfect friend that never studies for classes, comes for three lectures per semester and still manages to get perfect grades because everything you do in school is, like, so five years ago. That one friend who has read all the classics in their spare time, has conquered and enslaved all the knowledge actually worth knowing, will quote obscure Polish philosophers you’ve never heard of and plays the piano with a perfect pitch. They’re the wisest, most culture-non-conforming people you know - they’ve been up until 5am, wandering the streets and drinking vodka from a bottle while forcefully pentrating the mysteries of the universe all by themselves until they finally fall asleep on a park bench and awake with an epiphany about Klein bottles.
They’re “special”.

What are you actually doing?

Caring more about appearing “special” than actually trying to be “special”, that’s what you’re doing.

But, look, what made you so “special” and “different” in the first place was not a “calling” or “gifts” or the fact that you wrote good grades and were destined for greatness.

Here’s a handy chart I’ll use later - you were lucky enough to fall into the green zone, lucky enough to be born with an innate respect and a love for learning. That’s what made you “special”. That’s what made you succeed. Not pressure, not warped ideals and certainly not the fear of failure.


But somewhere along the way you forgot that and only focussed on the results. You started to believe yourself to be so special that everybody else should cater to you.
The fancy titles, the awe-struck looks, the “You’re so amazing”s and the “The genius of a decade”, the planned Nobel prize speech and the prestige, the dream others had lovingly created for you and you had slowly absorbed and warped as your own? It got to you. Hell, it got to me.
And it became more important than learning itself.
Somewhere along the way, you and I, we became an arrogant and lazy assholes.

You looked down on your easy courses and homework and instead of recognising how lucky you are, doing it in a minute and a half and then putting in the extra work on top to dig deeper and to maybe contribute something of value and fun, you threw it aside with a snide remark as beneath you.
Of course it wasn’t fun. Of course it wasn’t challenging. You never even tried to make it either.

(And don’t get me wrong: I honestly do think that the education system as it is right now needs MAJOR reforms. But right now? It is what it is. And instead of making the best of it and doing what you once loved so much, you succumbed to societal pressures you found yourself unable to fulfill and said “meh”.
You cared so much about the fame and the title that the relationship itself didn’t matter.)

But this isn’t the master-slave relationship you imagine it to be.
It’s a trophy-friendship. Once upon a time, you got on really well with this person and other people loved your friendship. You fell in love with the ideal, with their connections, their money, their prestige, their name on a CV, and you stuck around just for that.
You valiantly ignore the reality of the state of things between you two
and take them out only when absolutely needed, only when things are this close to falling apart and so you keep walking a fine, fine line.
Whenever a deadline approaches, you shower them with attention and love and, gingerly, they open up to you and you see a depth and complexity to them that astounds you and makes you think “Imagine! Imagine how much more I could have seen if only I’d started earlier?”
But the moment the crisis has passed, you toss them aside once again.

Because this is enough to make your name.
You may not remember much about these nights or about the person at all, but the only thing that counts is that it will fulfill your “special” prophecy and make you a legend, right?

Well, always remember this:
(read picture from right to left)

You’re not “special” if you made it to university. You’re not “special” if you’ve made your name. 
It comes down to a simple choice: do you value appearances over integrity or the other way round? Do you dare to look like a fumbling idiot again when you start something new? Is the “appearing like an idiot”-part more important to you than the “learning/creating something new”-part? 
Have a think about it.

3) Worship

“Alright”, you’ll say, “Alright. I get it. So I’ll treat my “friends”/subjects with respect and integrity and I’ll take all the time and concentration I can bestow upon them, just as I would upon real friends. But do you want me to be like, uh - like…

What is it?

“…like one of those anime characters that lives only for their dream and gets up at like 6am, does the thing, talks about the thing, breathes the thing, goes to bed, dreams of the thing and then wakes up at 6am to do the thing?”

(Google: Did you mean Hinata Shouyou?

Yes, yes, I did, google.)

Well, no, I don’t want you to do that. See, that’s the other extreme and unless you’re an anime character, chances are that it won’t work out for you. 

How did you get here?

Personally, I was caught in this trap for a loooooong time. Anime offered me a new way of relating to my passions that neither my family nor my school had ever shown me: unabashed obsession.
I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be obsessed. I wanted to give myself up to a higher ideal, something above human consciousness, something that would endure. I wanted to, well, get up at 6am, do the thing, talk about the thing, breathe the thing and so on - “the thing” in question being, of course, studying. I made elaborate plans, complicated lists, study-plans that shift on a daily basis and cover all grounds, I wanted to study for two hours before school, wanted to repeat lessons, wanted to give myself up to knowledge, made cool covers for my notebooks, made mock exams for my friends to use, planned to focus on each continent for a month and study it, planned to listen to one new composer each day, planned to go to the museum every week, planned to analyze Sherlock Holmes and think just like him, planned to - you get the idea.

I wanted to be like this:

What do you think you’re doing?

Being but a humble servant to the eternal workings of truth. Knowing thou art unworthy, yet suffering the perfection of study.

I wanted to go from 0 to 100, I wanted knowledge and wisdom to transform and deliver me, I wanted to feel enlightened, I wanted to feel my brain burning, pushing frontiers and breaking through to new horizons, I wanted to elevate myself to touch even the lowest levels of truth.
I wanted to do something noble, something worthwhile, something that could never be critisized and would always be valued, something with eternal meaning that would echo through the ages and I wanted to be even the tiniest cog in the machinery of mind.

What are you actually doing?

Being, quite simply, an idiot.

This is one of my favourite quotes (David Wong):

“There are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.” 

The same goes for studying. As shown above, studying won’t work out if you do not treat your subjects with respect. Conversely, studying also won’t work if you continue to idolize it as work beyond all work and reproach, as the only true calling, as the realm of the genii and by self-flagellating yourself and repeating “I’m but a humble servant in your kingdom of reason and will never reach where you are, but will spend all my time trying to reach you.” 

Why? Because by saying “I’ll never reach you or be worthy of you”, you’ve already sealed your fate. Some students (no matter how well they actually perform) are stuck thinking that they are stupid and incapable of doing well. Others think that the trick is in the preparation and they undergo complicated rituals of finding exactly the right study spot, exactly the right study drink, exactly the right study time, etc. in the hope of channeling the connection between their godly subject and themselves, but it never turns out quite as glamorous as they’d hoped (once again, speaking from experience).

This is because you cannot force a true friendship if you think yourself unworthy of it. It will always be worship. 

And why are you worshipping?
Because it takes the pressure right off of you
. This always annoyed me about some of my fellow students. They treated becoming a good student as this miraculous and unlikely event that only happens to the #blessed.
I insisted that “no”, it could be done. “Yes”, it was hard work, but ultimately absolutely doable. But now that I’ve been in their shoes? I understand.
Admitting that you could have done it anytime implies failure on your part for not having done it. By saying “Oh no, it is so very complex and divine and a lowly worm like me could never hope to crawl in its shadows”, you shift the focus away from yourself and onto the thing itself. 

But this is a synthetic, manufactured relationship with a partner that does not even exist. It is, at its heart, a kyaa  ~ I hope senpai notices me! (๑♡⌓♡๑) - kind of relationship. It’s idolizing not a person’s true character, but their appearance, their aesthetic and the values that they represent for you. It’s not really listening to what they’re saying, but warping their words so they fit into your perfect idea of them.
Just, unlike with undereage debasement, you do not play pretend that everything’s fine and secretly hate the other person deep down - you honestly idolize them to heaven and back, so you could never possible reach them.
You’re using them to fill in the holes in your own personality.

And that … just isn’t fun? I dunno about you, but treating studying as something that must be done perfectly with exactly the right pen and the perfect face-mask after the right smoothie and in the right lighting by a window overgrown with ivy and with perfect concentration from the first moment and unwavering, knightly passion and exact planning from 6am to bedtime all because I know deep down that I will not be able to fulfill these ideals and thus don’t have to feel bad about not reaching them just … isn’t for me. I don’t like my relationships to be all overstructured and “perfect” and high maintenance like that.

I want my friendships and my studying to be authentic. And that means that sometimes it’s messy and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s quoting Keats while lying on the floor at 2am in the morning and chugging milk out of a carton, but it’s real.
I truly do understand this longing to make studying look pretty and like a magical realm, because when you’re in the flow that’s really what it feels like. But the beauty comes along with the practice, not the other way round.

No, but honestly - what do I DO then?


Y’remember Hippogriffs from Harry Potter? That’s how I imagine my subjects. Approach them carefully, honestly, maintaining eye contact and as equals and they will respect you. This scene:

This scene is what I’m talking about. 
If you were in a worship-state, you would only admire them from afar, gushing over how beautiful they are, but sad that they would never deign to even look in your general direction. (think of all the subjects you thought would be way too difficult for you)
If you were in a debasement-state, you’d either try to make friends with all the hippogriffs, hopping from one to the other and forming no bond with either or you’d “tsk” disdainfully and try to force them to obey you against their will. (*cough* Malfoy *cough*)

If, however, you’re in the green, there will be mutual respect between you and you will be able to fly.

So what does it mean to be in the green? 
It means not to do any of the above, obviously, so 

  • take your time for and invest brainpower into each and every one of your subjects - be a good friend. Be there. Listen. Even if they have crazy ideas at 4am in the morning. 
  • appreciate your subjects and know that they are more than the teacher who tries to get you to know them. Sometimes, some people just have a really shitty PR department (especially maths)
  • don’t think too much or too little of yourself. You can do amazing things, but that does not give you the license not to do amazing things anymore, rest on your laurels and expect others to applaud you for it. 

  • some relationships take longer than others to build, but getting to understand someone who puzzled you from the first moment and challenged your beliefs will improve your own personality as well
    (side-eye at PE. Yes, I love you now, you crazy athletic bastard)
  • do it for the sake of the relationship itself, because you enjoy their company. Results are presents which, although very much appreciated, should not be the main motivator to keep you going.
    This essentially means that you should think of studying as hanging out with a friend - already makes it seem so much more inviting and way less daunting, does it not?

    (Logic and I, being saltmates. Real friends judge other people together)
  • be aware that all friendships go through rocky patches and some subjects might take a while to warm up to you or you to them. But if you think that it’s worth it, then you gotta power through that. If you don’t think it’s worth it, you gotta be brave enough to say good-bye. 


Look, what I’m actually saying is … be Souma Yukihira from Food Wars.

Food Wars is a crazy and at times pretty pervy manga/anime, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t also one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever consumed and if Souma isn’t one of the most admirable main characters I’ve ever encountered.  

The relationship between him and cooking is filled with trust, love and equality. He trusts his cooking skills, because he knows that they have spent a long time together - cooking won’t let him down and he won’t ever let cooking down by stopping to look for ways to improve.

That doesn’t mean, however, that he’s always deadly serious - he loves to play around with cooking and to try ridiculous new things. He never forgets the joy that even the simplest form of cooking brings him. 

There’s one great episode where he puts his life as a chef on the line and someone fearfully asks him what he’d do if he lost. He shrugs and says he could become a lawyer or a teacher or something. So while he loves cooking profoundly, he does not worship it and he knows that there are other relationships he could build up if he had to. He just …doesn’t want to, because cooking is his bff. 

He loves to take on challenges to see how far he and cooking have come -

- and he takes challenges very seriously -


- but takes it even more seriously if he loses -

- and nonetheless knows that they are stronger for the challenges they have faced together. 

So, yes, this is what it means to be in the green. Cherish your friendships, hang out together, be honest, funny, clever, curious and you. 

You’ll be surprised at how much fun the two of you will have, now that all the pretensions and pressures are gone. 

Just …hang out and have fun.

(and maybe watch Food Wars!, because damn, Souma is the MVP of my inspirational heroes)

Have a great day and I’ll see you in the next (and hopefully shorter) part 4 :)

RELIGIOUS THEMES IN “mother!” BY DARREN ARONOFSKY

Spoilers below!

Synopsis to begin: “Mother” and “Him” live in a secluded house in a bright field. Mother is trying to repair the house from the apparent fire that only Him survived. Him is a famous poet and has writer’s block for his new poem. Strangers, a married couple, bring disruption in their house as Him welcomes them in but Mother is unsure of them.

Ending: God has found disorder and evil in the world and must destroy it to try again. Mother/The Mother Church/Mary creates a fire that explodes “The Garden of Eden”, killing everyone, and Mother/The Mother Chruch/Mary allows God to remove her heart and crush it. The film then begins where we started as Mother wakes up, a new start for God to try and create a perfect utopia without wickedness and sin.

Plagues of Egypt

All 10 plagues are shown or mentioned in the film:

Water into blood///Frogs///Lice///Mixture of wild animals or flies///Diseased Livestock///Boils///Thunderstorm of hail///Locusts///Darkness for three days///and Death of firstborn

Mother (Mother Earth/Mother Church)

Jennifer Lawrence portrays “Mother”, allegedly Mary or the Mother Church. In Roman Catholicism, the Mother Church is also referred to as the Goddess Church, the term Javier Bardem’s character calls Lawrence’s character. The Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother both lose their first child, witness those around them kill their sons, and later witness those who killed their sons “eat” him. At the end of the film, Mother allows Him to take her heart as Mary is continuously compassionate as she is known in Scripture as “Mary, The Compassionate Mother”. Once Mother’s son is born, Him waits to present him to the crowds of people but Mother refuses to let go of the child, aka Jesus.Once Him takes the child away to show the crowds he is immediately praised and taken away by the crowd, signifying him leaving his Mother to preach to other crowds. After the child’s death, Mother is beaten by the crowd, showing her survive the sword of grief that Mary the Mother of Jesus survived after Jesus’s death.

Him

Javier Bardem portrays “Him”, another word that is used to refer to God. It is noted that “Him” is a poet and people travel near and far to hear his word. Towards the end of the film, Kristen Wiig’s character refers to Jennifer Lawrence as the “inspiration” for the book, aka the Bible. In the end of the film, we see Bardem wipe out the population because his plan didn’t work. Bardem wants to “get it right” just as in the Bible, God sent a flood to wipe out the population because of their wickedness. In the film, Bardem explains he “must get ready for the apocalypse”, signifying the end of the population.

The House Heart

The heart of the house is shown becoming decrepit throughout the film and refers to the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” which is the interior life, as the heart in the film is inside the house, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, aka Mother. 

Mud Smear

Signifies Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent where ashes are spread onto believer’s foreheads.

Masculinity

This film is told entirely from Mother’s perspective, as in the Bible the only perspective on the creation of humans is God’s. In the Bible’s tradition, many men have the masculine nature to continue wiping things out and not allowing the wives or women to continue with their work as the males should be the main focus.

The Garden of Eden

God created The Garden of Eden to be a “paradise” in scripture as Mother  states in a scene, “ I want to make it a Paradise.”

Cain and Abel

Domhnall and Brendan Gleeson allegedly play Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4, Cain is jealous of Abel and asks Abel to come to a “field” aka in the film the house located in the field. Cain then kills Abel with a stone which in the film is a doorknob.

Adam and Eve

Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer allegedly play Adam and Eve, the parents of Cain and Abel. Adam’s character appears first, as Adam was created first by God. Bardem’s character chooses to spend lots of time with him because this is his first creation. Eve’s character is extremely cunning, as she has been influenced by the cunning serpent in scripture aa she encourages Mother to sexualize herself to be more appealing to Him. Mother sees Adam and Eve having sex, beginning the spiral towards original sin and evil in the world.  

3

VIXX 4th MINI ALBUM -  桃源境 (도원경)

2 Versions.
- 탄생화 (Birth flower): 북릿 (표지포함 68p) + 슬리브 + CD
- 탄생석 (Birthstone):   북릿 (표지포함 68p) + 슬리브 + CD
* Booklet (68p with cover) + Sleeve + CD
* Cover size (180 x 270 mm)

12 Different Postcards (148 x 200 mm).
- 6. 탄생화 (Birth flower).
- 6. 탄생석 (Birthstone).

12 Different Bookmarks (50 x 100 mm).
- 6. 탄생화 (Birth flower).
- 6. 탄생석 (Birthstone). 

2 Different Posters.
- 탄생화 (Birth flower).
- 6. 탄생석 (Birthstone).  

Personal Mardi Gras thoughts

1.  Catholic Ash Wednesday comes from Genesis 3:19–that moment when God expelled Adam and Eve from the paradise of Eden as the price of their rebellion and lack of faith: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.” God is telling them, “Think about what you did. Repent. Seek Me out. For you have replaced My love with your selfishness; you have replaced My grace with your sin; you have replaced My gift of immortality with death, which means that some day, you must surrender your body to sickness and corruption, and the grave will claim you as you become ashes once again.”

2.   Catholic Ash Wednesday is a preparation of 40 days for renewing our baptismal commitment to Jesus, at Easter. The ashes are a sign of repentance and turning back to the Gospel, because death will come, and after death, we will be judged before the throne of Jesus Christ, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But of course, we will joyously remember at Easter that the precious Blood of Jesus has regained “paradise lost.” The death brought down upon us by the first Adam is reversed by the second Adam. For as St. Paul reminds us in the same verse of 6:23: “But (by) the grace of God, (we have) life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

3.   For me, personally, Ash Wednesday and Lent are an annual reminder that I do not have control. The Lord God is in control. I, however, sometimes live with the illusion that I can control my life, my health, my friends, my mental state, my financial situation, my sense of peace and comfort. I can try to control these things, but sometimes all my efforts end in “ashes.” In the end, “vanity of vanities, and all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Lent is my time to throw my earthly sense of power and control into the “bonfire of vanities” which is penance and sacrifice. If I rise and have victory, it is only in the Blood of Jesus and His Calvary–“Through Him, with Him, and in Him.”

Hidden Herstory: Harriet Powers

A quilt can be a powerful medium for communicating stories, and were a rich tradition among African American enslaved women. Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt is an excellent example and one of very few surviving narrative quilts made by an African American during the late 1800s.   

Photo: Bible Quilt by Harriet Powers, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

Powers stitched her Bible Quilt in the mid-1880s and exhibited it at the 1886 Athens Cotton Fair. While on display, the quilt caught the eye of Jennie Smith, a young internationally-trained local artist. Of her discovery, Smith later wrote, “I have spent my whole life in the South, and am perfectly familiar with thirty patterns of quilts, but I have never seen an original design, and never a living creature portrayed in patchwork. … The scenes on the quilt were biblical and I was fascinated. I offered to buy it, but it was not for sale at any price.”

Photo: Bible Quilt by Harriet Powers, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. 

Four years later, Powers and her family fell on hard times and she contacted Smith to sell the quilt. Before turning over her precious creation, Powers explained each of the eleven panels of the design. Briefly, the subjects are Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a continuance of Paradise with Eve and a son, Satan amidst the seven stars, Cain killing his brother Abel, Cain goes into the land of Nod to get a wife, Jacob’s dream, the baptism of Christ, the crucifixion, Judas Iscariot and the thirty pieces of silver, the Last Supper, and the Holy Family.