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Posts tagged ‘college’

Kafkaesque Symbolism Applied to the 21st Century (quick version)–or are Americans facing servere alientation?

You remember The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka? You know, the salesman who turns into an insect. Just a couple of background points: 1) Gregor was the protagonist’s name–the salesman who turned into an insect; 2) He lived at home with his parents; 3) No one was sympathetic to Gregor’s metamorphosis; 4) Often, the symbolism within this novella is attributed to Marxist “worker alienation” descriptions; 5) Gregor experienced profound alienation from all areas of his life.


Okay, I promised to make this short, so here it is: Americans are becoming increasingly alienated by their own design. Often you will hear us whine about failing community and family structures while larger systems are expected to pick up the slack. In other words, instead of parents being responsible for parenting; schools, legislators, law enforcement, courts and social services are expected to fill the gaps. Likewise, government is expected to take over the responsibilities of a compassionate, connected, engaged community. Instead of your best friend or priest holding your hand and listening to you as you suffer through a year of grieving over the death of your 16-year-old son, or your neighbors pooling together to help you and your family as your husband is out of work fighting cancer, we turn to government-administered and/or funded social services.

Hey! It’s great that these systems are here, please don’t misunderstand me. I am a huge advocate for funding social services. They are critical to modern community functioning, and more funding is needed. Yet, why are these services so critical? What went wrong–what broke? While these services are indeed critical, they are a miserable replacement for parenting, familial and societal accountability, genuine friendship, sharing, warmth and love.

What I’m saying is that Gregor’s plight is a perfect description of the alienation within 21st Century culture, taking into account the context described above. I argue that it is even more relevant today than when it was originally penned in 1915. So, if you’ve ever read The Metamorphosis and liked it, or if you have never read it but think you might like to, I’d encourage you to pick it up, and challenge you to think of it in terms of symbolism that would be pertinent to American culture today.

One of the most powerful features of classic literature is not only its timelessness as it relates to telling a story within a historical context, but that themes and symbols can be translated to something relevant in any point in time. While alienation may be a part of the human condition, perhaps it has become even worse than before? Something to think about.

How to write a college essay (A PROVEN 6-step formula disclosed here)

I’ve been getting many academic writing questions lately. After many, many years of earning nothing but As and a few Bs on academic papers and helping MANY classmates with their writing, I have developed a formula that is extremely useful for many timid writers who fear things such as organization and staying on topic.

 Here’s how this goes:

1) Decide on a problem–what you want to solve. Think “scientfic method” if that’s helpful to you. Your hypothesis, that’s your thesis statement. It goes at the end of you first paragraph (intro.);

2) Draft your intro paragraph. You are always answering this question: Why your reader cares about your subject.

3) Ask yourself a bunch of questions. Pretend you are interviewing you. Organize the questions in a natural order. What you want to know 1st, 2nd, etc. (e.g. 1st I want background on the problem–I need to understand it and why it’s a problem; 2nd I want to know what can be done about the problem. What has been tried and failed/has been successful; 3rd I want to know your solution, and why it’s the best one. Give me data and research, etc.);

4) Answer your questions one by one, and work your way to a solution/conclusion. Repeat thesis statement in last paragraph (conclusion).

5) Organize. Read through your questions and answers again. Reorganize if needed. Make sure that your 1st question is really the 1st one you would ask on the subject. Make sure your 2nd question really is the second question you would want to have answered. You may find that question number 4 is a better 2nd question to ask, so reorganize if needed; and,

6) Edit. Delete the questions and create transitional phrases to improve flow. Edit for grammar, spelling and citing sources. Ask for help with editing if you’re concerned. This isn’t cheating, especially if you use the expereince to learn–work in a tutoring session to help you learn how to self-edit a little better.

 If you follow this formula, your chances of earning at least a B are quite good.

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