Essay 1

When I walked into class on Wednesday (09/14/22),  I was so frustrated with myself that I could have cried. I was very confused, I had no idea what to write about and this normally doesn’t happen to me. Thoughts of word count and answering all the questions and somehow using a book, I was just lost. I think it was something that the majority of the class had felt, but at first, I had no idea. Then we clustered into groups for discussion after break. I got into a group, and like Dr. McCoy had stated in class, all of our moods had changed completely. We used each other to build ideas, I walked in with my epigraph picked and a whole lot of thoughts on what I could possibly do, but I left with an idea. The epigraph I chose is “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.”–Percival Everett. I do not know how to even begin to describe how this makes me feel; it makes more sense than anything, ever. It is the most satisfying statement I’ve heard and I want to talk about it forever, yet I do not even know where to begin. First I think about how we speak, there are so many languages since the beginning of time from all over the world, it’s amazing that we can translate (or attempt to) and understand what someone speaking a completely different language is saying to us. Then I wonder, how do we translate languages, especially the dead ones. This I think is a goal that I can set for myself in the future to learn about and research. I also begin to think about things that are written in different languages and translated to English, like the Bacchae, that I’ve now read many times. It is so crazy to think that someone could have translated that story by Euripides, who was from Ancient Greece and spoke a language that no one speaks any longer. How does a sentence of utter nonsense spoken by a man of the BC time period, yes, before the story of Jesus, become the words we speak? Words are so delicate, especially in English. It’s the hardest language to speak and understand. So how do Euripides words become what they are in English? What if they are translated wrong, his play not getting to serve the same purpose that he’d intended? There it is– intentions. How you intend your words to come across. How you intend your words to make people feel. In class on Thursday, in my group, Cam talked about how this epigraph could also be used to talk about good and bad faith. In the epigraph, Percival Everett states “…the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.”. When I think of this and how it is stated, I think of lying. We talked a few classes ago about good faith and bad faith. The idea I got from Cam’s statement was that the meaning behind the sentence can be different than the sentence. You can say “I read the Bacchae” all day long, but if the intention is to deceive the listener, it is acting in bad faith. But it is still a sentence, by the definition of Everetts. But if it is a lie or deception, perhaps it is a sentence without meaning. That does not mean that the sentence doesn’t make sense as it is listened to, but the person does not mean what they are saying. A sentence without meaning does not always mean a sentence without feeling either. People say things to hurt others, and act to deceive or be malicious which all I would define as acts of bad faith.

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