WORDS, WORDS, powerful WORDS!

“Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.”
-Hamza Yusuf

Words are powerful.  And they are especially powerful in influencing and impacting young children, who have often not fully developed discerning critical thinking skills and are easily convinced that Santa is real, or eating carrots will make them see in the dark. Prevalent themes and topics in children’s literature are constantly changing – How these themes develop and change over time and how authors adapt to this transformation can be observed both in the progression of their individual works, as well as the progression of all literary works. The words about these themes and topics have the power to significantly influence people, not only about things trivial, or specific opinions, but also about beliefs, ideas, ways of thinking and how to be a human.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
-Pearl Strachan Hurd

Some consistently common topics and themes are those of obedience and questioning the traditional, looking beyond appearances, and envisioning and exploring the possibility of a better future.  While these overarching ideas have remained fairly stable in their appearance, associated opinions and perspectives regarding these portrayals are always in flux. With the power of words, the authors of children’s literature can spread awareness of current issues, encourage and develop new and modern viewpoints, and impact readers in a variety of ways.

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Historically, viewpoints on obedience and tradition have been more positive and encouraging of these values.  Today, strict obedience is more and more frequently depicted as undesirable, and the questioning and challenging of the traditional is depicted as more acceptable -thank goodness! We need a little healthy rebellion in our lives every now and then in order to fight for the creation and development of positive advances and an altogether better world. Literary characters question their reality by choosing alternative paths and practice critical thinking about the world around them, especially in regards to appearances. Frequently, characters that look beautiful, are, in fact, villains, and those with physical or emotional differences or defects prove to be heroes or redeemably praiseworthy. Even words can be misjudged based on their appearance. Interpretation is already subjective, and even when an author’s intent seems clear, language exists in such a way that they may actually be saying something entirely different!

“The pen is mightier than the sword”
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The protagonist of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, Lyra, is often disobedient and rebellious, and grows to be suspicious of beautiful and/or powerful people, but these behavior patterns are not depicted as inherently negative, and are actually regularly rewarded.  Many of Ursula Le Guin’s characters rebel in similar way against traditional societal behaviors, those of their constructed literary world, as well as those of the world outside the books.  The dragons even reject gender at all! Fantastic! Let us all be more open-minded, like dragons! Through these consistent rebellions and questions, (now) standard fantasy characters develop unique identities and supply valuable contributions to develop and enrich their worlds. In this way, authors can influence readers to aspire to similar identity development and enriching contributions. Powerful. And hopeful.

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
– Rumi

It was initially a bit disheartening to read Ursula Le Guin’s intro of ‘Earthsea Revisited,’ just because it is sadly still so relevant that “women are seen in relation to heroes: as mother, wife, seducer, beloved, victim, or rescuable maiden” (1). She wrote this in 1999, and even today it is depressingly very applicable to the majority of ‘heroes’ in literature, film, and REAL LIFE!  It was really interesting to see how Le Guin herself was aware of society’s impact on her own writing choices in terms of female roles and limitations: “I simply lacked the courage to make my heroine doubly Other” (2).  Even when she included powerful female characters, they were not necessarily defined as typical heroes.  While Earthsea has a male-dominated society and emphasis, her series seems to develop over time in complexity and grow more organically inclusive.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
– Albus Dumbledore

Through the convincing and compelling enrichments of fantasy worlds, the outside world can be enriched simultaneously through new developments and insights.  The words used in the exploration of possible peaceful and harmonious futures can encourage peaceful and harmonious futures for modern society.  Even exploring dismal futures can inspire change, also encouraging a future of peace and harmony. Le Guin’s dominating theme of her first trilogy was “the quest for inner harmony and personal wholeness” (Marek Oziewicz, Rediscovering harmony: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence”), a thematic quest idea that is congruent with the search for a better future.  “Le Guin’s vision is neither Utopian nor dystopian, but rather what may be called ‘melioristic,’ meaning tending to betterment through human effort – or maybe through the opening of human hearts.” (Lenz, 2001, pp.77) Through the encouragement of the development of personal peace and harmony, in literary works as well as reflections upon those works, perhaps a future of real peace and harmony can be achieved.

That’d be hella sweet.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– John Keating

I dunno… he’s telling me with words…. should I believe him?

… wait… I’m using words… Am I influencing YOU? Do I mean what I am saying? What message am I even communicating!!?

WORDCEPTION.

Music Monday: The Call

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “the Call” by Regina Spektor

Listen to the song here (OR just watch Prince Caspian):

Oh… you prefer LIVE.  Well, here ya go then:

Lyrics:

“It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
‘Til it was a battle cry
I’ll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
‘Til they’re before your eyes
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye”

Why this song’s so cool: It’s soooooo pwetty!

Why this song’s helpful: It’s chock-a-block FULL of inspirey messages and allusions.

Those who leave you never really leave you.

“Just because everything’s changing doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before.” YOU CAN DO IT! You will get through this. This too shall pass.

The war is your challenges and obstacles.  And you’ll come back to yourself and who you truly are once you’ve weathered the storm.

Follow the light.

A reminder that what is important to you may not be important to everyone but that’s okay.

Home Is Where Your Butt Is

“Home is where the heart is.”
“Home is wherever I’m with you.”
“There’s no place like home.”
“I need you in my house, ‘cause you’re my home.”
“Home sweet home.”
“I wish I was homeward bound.”


Home is a term that is often used without really having a consistently agreed on or recognized definition – While there is no universal definition, the concept of home is still a universal theme – the idea of ‘home’ may be different for every person, but it is always important. A home SHOULD be a safe and nurturing environment, both physically and emotionally, but it is unfortunately not always so.  Even people lucky enough to have four walls and a roof may not feel safe, secure, or nurtured there – sure safe from rain probably, but that isn’t the only thing that makes a home.  And I don’t think a home needs to be a house, necessarily, although physical safety and protection are still a contributing component.

The idea of home and one’s role there is extremely prevalent in children’s literature. I recently read Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting, a children’s picture book that is about a boy and his father who are homeless and live in an airport.  While it seems that they have a pretty nurturing and safe environment both physically (with the exception of the danger of being caught and thrown out) and emotionally (they have a good relationship, friends, a support system), they are still saving up for a ‘real’ home.  At first glance it seems like it is communicating a positive message about overcoming obstacles and making a better life, but it places value on only one definition of ‘home,’ and portrays an exclusionary perspective about the homeless.

For me, I believe that a significant factor in the concept of home is the ability to be at home with oneself, within oneself, at peace and comfortable and safe.  That is a big part of my definition or interpretation of the word home.  But everyone has their own interpretation and definition, and those are constantly changing and evolving as the associated ideas and terms grow and develop.

The term ‘relationship’ isn’t often connected to a physical place.  However, relationships with places can have a significant impact on people. People usually feel the strongest relationship with the place they call home.  The home can play an essential role in an individual’s growth and development, and it is through a safe and nurturing relationship with your home you can build safe and nurturing relationships with yourself and others.

“Just know you’re not alone 
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home”


Totes what my home/hood is like:

 

Music Monday: Good Old Girl

just another Music Monday! whoa-oo-oh!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “Good Old Girl” by Marian Call

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“She’s a good old girl
A good old girl
She’s lived too long and seen too much
All over scabs and scars and such
But she’s a pretty girl
Kinda pretty girl
If you cock your head and squint
If you recognize the prints of space and time

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Space will slow her stride
Time will turn her tide
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know when to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’s a good old girl
She’ll fly true

Her structure’s sound
Her clock is wound
Through mistreatment and neglect
She’ll give whatever she’s got left
And she’s run aground
She’s run aground
But on the weakest breath of wind
She’ll up and navigate the din of love and lies

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Truth will stem her pride
And time will turn her tide
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know how to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’s a good old girl
She’ll fly true

She’s a good old girl
My good old girl
She’s lived too long and seen too much
But still responds to the right touch
And she’s a pretty girl
Such a pretty girl
In the presence of her pain
You can’t hear nothin’ but the rain of space and time

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Space will slow her stride
And time will tell she’s tried
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know when to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’ll make her way
She’s good”

Why this song’s so cool:  1. It’s part of an entire album (Got to Fly) Marian Call did in honor of Firefly and Battlestar Galactica… so that’s awesome!  2. It’s just lovely. 3. That’s really it. 4. Move along.

5. PERFECT for the TARDIS! <3

Why this song’s helpful: You know that part at the end of the movie Serenity where Cap’n Mal asks Zoe, “Think she’ll hold together?” and Zoe replies, “She’s tore up plenty.  But she’ll fly true.” We aaaaalllllllllll knew she wasn’t only talking about Serenity. Even though Serenity and Zoe both went through a lot of painful and drastic transformations, experienced significant loss, and came out the other side with many physical and emotional scars, they DID come out.  They’re both good ol’ girls – strong, sturdy, loyal, and ready to soldier on and be true to themselves even in the face of great adversity.


https://mariancall.com/