Epigraph Essay

An epigraph can have many definitions. The definition used in this writing is from The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. “A passage printed on the title page or first page of a literary work or at the beginning of a section of such a work. Epigraphs, which tend to set the tone or establish the theme of what follows, are generally taken from earlier, influential texts by authors.” (Murfin). An epigraph used from Percival Everett’s novel Erasure goes on to describe the complications between what is being said and what is being interpreted or done. “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean something, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” (Everett). Words are merely sounds that a person is making. Throughout society, it is not always true what comes out of someone’s mouth. It is whether the person is trustworthy or not that makes words mean something. Within the play, The Bacchae, there were many instances of faulty impressions, whether it is words, actions, or appearances not everything is truthful.

There is a sort of irony in using this specific epigraph of Everetts for this play. It is Dionysus who wants people to believe him and the memory of his mother, that he is, in fact, Zeus’ son. He is not being truthful while trying to gain the trust of his people. His anger towards the mistrust comes through the vengeful appearance he makes. He begins his journey in Thebes as a false human, purposefully disguising himself, to create a theatrically vengeful proclamation of his anger. He plans to trick the people into thinking that he was only a mere human and then surprise them. During a confrontation with his cousin, Pentheus, he is talking about himself in the third person as though he, himself, is not Dionysus, tricking the man into speaking too honestly in front of the God. Dionysus was speaking in truth yet lacked the whole truth. There were instances when he talked in the third person, telling the truth. Then there were moments when it was blatantly lying. “He saw me and I him, and he gave me his rites.” (Euripides). This sentence could be taken a few different ways. One way is that Dionysus is insinuating that he sees himself for what he is worth. The other way to take it is that he is just lying. Euripides’ way with words here gives both impressions. “You hear my words, Pentheus, but you pay no attention to them.” (Euripides). The conversation that Dionysus had with Pentheus had many insinuations about the fact that the God himself was right in front of him. His enunciations of “I” during statements regarding the God gave hints towards to concept of he, himself, being Dionysus.   

Dionysus took his anger out on many people who did not regard him as his true person, the son of Zeus. His mother’s sisters were no exception to his wrath. “For this reason, I have spurred those same sisters to madness and driven them in distraction from their houses.” (Euripides). Dionysus, upset over his Aunts not believing in his true kinship, decides it best to make the women believe that they are mad, when they are not actually mad, out of anger. “I bring here in my arms, as you see, this prize of my valour, to be hung on your palace roof.” (Euripides). At the end of the play, it is discovered that Agaue, in midst of her man-made madness, falsely killed a lion which was actually her son. Her reality is not an honest one for, Dionysus has created a false reality that led to her praising the death of her son unknowingly. 

According to the Legal Information Institute, the definition of bad faith is: “Depending on the exact setting, bad faith may mean a dishonest belief or purpose, untrustworthy performance of duties, neglect of fair dealing standards, or a fraudulent intent.” (“Bad Faith”). Throughout schooling, it can get easy to make up lies, even a little one. The overbearing weight of procrastinating for so long that it is almost impossible to get the assignment done on time. Even writing this essay mistakes were made on my part, not remembering the due date, so here on a Thursday night, the essay is being written so that it is almost completed before work tomorrow. There are two ways to go about this situation. The first one is to lie about an extenuating circumstance and ask for an extension, though it is completely my fault for not knowing the due date. The other is to own up to the mistake made and work hard to get the assignment done. The first one is considered bad faith, a lie. The way to best go about the situation is to keep better track of assignments and make sure that my intentions and actions are always good and honest. 

It can be hard, to be honest, and own up to mistakes that you made especially if you lied about one. In high school, it was easy to get away with lying about doing something as simple as the readings for class. The punishment for not readying was not much in high school. They are not always going to find out about the lie. Going into college it is essential to do the readings. It is an essential part of being a student. It is best for my education to continue to do the readings for classes to be honest. The honest work being done through the readings and writings will make my education easier down the road.  

Percival Everett’s epigraph can be interpreted in multiple ways. Words are words. It is the meaning behind the words that matter. People have a tendency of lying. The intention that they have is not being portrayed through their words. Sometimes it can be done by anger, sadness, or just being scared. Throughout the story of The Bacchae, there were many instances where they were not truthful both with their words and appearances. This was due to the anger that Dionysus had towards the people who did not believe in him. There are instances of partial truths but, that also means they are partial lies. This can be something that commonly happens in real life for people may find it easier to lie than, to be honest. There are instances where this can happen during daily life. Whether it is in a novel or in real life, words can be hard to understand. The intentions behind them may not always be honest ones. 

Works Cited

“Bad Faith.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/bad_faith. 

Euripides. The Bacchae and Other Plays. Penguin Books, 2005. 

Everett, Percival. Erasure. Graywolf Press, 2011.

Murfin, Ross C., and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Fourth ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018. 

Essay 1

“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. In life we take what we know for granted until at some point, when you’ve thought you’ve mastered a skill, you become hit by a brick wall of information that you don’t understand. The first time I opened the Bacchae I questioned myself and my chosen concentration. That may sound a little over dramatic but when I opened up to that play it was the first time, I was faced with the fact that I couldn’t understand what I was reading. During the first few days’ class Dr. McCoy had forewarned us that this text was difficult to get through, I remember taking that into account but still expecting to at least understand half of it, so I was truly taken aback when I found myself completely lost. 

 
It’s a wonder that any human language is understandable at all, at least that’s what I think when I look at it now. English truly is just, “Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing,” and the fact that people made up these words and strung them together and we can understand it is such a great feat. The English language has also changed so much over time and the fact that we can still make sense of the old language is amazing. In class we briefly discussed Shakespeare and that has gotten me thinking about how we assume meaning to his play’s and ask ourselves what he intended to mean when he wrote one of his plays. “The meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” Can’t Sheakspears plays just have been for entertainment? Why does Macbeth have to had meant something? Just because we can understand Sheakspears works why must we look into more and not just appreciate them at a surface level understanding? 

With the Bacchae we do the same thing, but this time is it different? Do we look more into the Bacchae because it’s hard to understand? Through this class I have no doubt I will thoroughly come to know and understand the Bacchae and take in all it has to offer me. The meaning behind words is important, or so I’ve been told, so perhaps understanding works like Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, and the Bacchae is more important than I might admit. “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood.” There is always going to be something in read work that we might not understand but as long as we take our language for granted, we’ll surely choose not to acknowledge that fact. 

Learning How to Think

In our first few weeks of classes we’ve already learned a lot. We learned how to think and how to learn. This might sound like pretty basic stuff, but it’s actually critically important to not just this course, but to our life. We have learned how to critically think, how to unpack ideas and analyze them more closely than we might have before. One of our course epigraphs illustrates this idea well, Percival Everett states, “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.” 

The first sentence “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood.” condenses some of what I said before, the idea that anyone can ever understand each other is crazy to think about. Everybody has unique thoughts and feelings, yet through inflections and common words people can understand each other. This got me thinking about something from our class, The Bacchae. The Bacchae was written around 405 BC. That means it has been around for 2427 years, and we still understand it, we can still study it. The Bacchae was written by people who lived in a completely different time period but it still makes sense. It’s hard to wrap your head around that. This idea tells us a few things, one of the obvious being that language is a connector. Through language we can connect with the past, with their ideas and feelings. On top of that, because these texts still make sense to us it shows how similar we are to people in the past. People were still people then, just living in a different situation. This can be seen as both comforting and scary. It’s nice to think that people have been thinking and communicating in similar ways for centuries. It’s also scary to think about how little has changed over what seems like such a large span of time to us. That one single sentence led me toward thinking about The Bacchae and about the minds about people from ancient times.

In our first few classes we learned to think critically about everything. One of our course epigraphs was an internet meme, something most people wouldn’t give a second thought to. However, we spent at least 20 minutes discussing and unpacking meaning behind it to grasp a better understanding. Critical thinking can make your mind run wild in all different ways. If you try hard enough you can connect almost anything to something else. In my paragraph above I moved from a one sentence quote about  language and communication and connected it to our reading of the Bacchae. These texts don’t have any crossover within them, but finding connections between them is a huge part of what we should do when thinking critically. “Intertextuality is the condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concept that any text is an amalgam of others…” (Murfin and Ray 476). Using this theory we are able to find connections between texts. Moving forward in this course, and in life, I’ll be making as many strong connections as I can between works. This may help me to find inspiration when I’m trying to write an essay, or allow me to explain something more easily. Another thing we learned was about how to learn effectively. We should be learning so that we can teach the topic we’re learning about, not just memorize parts to pass a test. Finding connections makes this easier. As a student hoping to become a teacher in the future this is one of the most important concepts to me. The avenues that critical thinking opens will be extremely helpful to me as a student. I’ve already written half of this essay based around just the first sentence of one of our epigraphs.

The second part of our course epigraph that says “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.” This part of the epigraph is a little bit more confusing than the first. It almost feels like this second half is explaining pieces of critical thinking. Sentences are meant to be understood. The reason we form sentences is to communicate with others and get our ideas across. What this quote shows is that people often understand each other. Normally when people speak to each other the meaning doesn’t get lost, but it’s not impossible. When people think critically about what people have said, what words they’ve used, it can change the intended meaning. That’s why Everett said “the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” This makes me think more about what I say. Going forward I am going to be more critical of my choices in speech. I don’t want my intentions to be misinterpreted, as it is possible to do. Part of the way I plan to make my meaning more clear is through consistent communication. The more well I know somebody, the less likely it is that I am misunderstood. I think that implementing clear communication in class will help to keep my intentions clear and also promote good faith.

So far, this course has already been one of the most beneficial to me in just a few weeks of having it. I had never heard of an epigraph before this class but after learning more about them I can’t stop noticing things that would make great epigraphs in future writing. I think another hugely important part of this class that’s more of a theme, is operating in good faith. I find it easy to operate in good faith when I know the professor is too. I have already found myself pushing myself harder for this course and being more critical of my work because I want to meet the good faith expectations that have been set. I think that will be the most impactful thing in this course. A goal I can already set for myself is to plan ahead more. I think that the level of work we are doing can be seen just by the amount of critical thinking we’ve already done and if I’m going to keep up and work in good faith I’m going to need to plan ahead. My main goals for this class will be to plan ahead and openly communicate. These two goals will help me to operate in good faith and succeed.

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.

essay 1

Cameron Kramer 

English 203-03

Beth Mccoy

September 15,2022

       When looking at the epigraphs the suspicious pants really got me thinking about how people perceive things. The word perceived is defined as “become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand” The common theme we found in my group from looking at the suspicious pants as things are likely perceived in different ways. Oftentimes I will perceive things in different ways than another student might. Some might look at the pair of pants and say they are suspicious, others may say that the pants are looking at something else and are thinking that the other thing that the pants are looking at may be suspicious. But either could be right or some other perception could be correct, but we would never really know unless we asked the pants.

          Looking at the epigraph of the suspicious pants got me thinking about things that we have talked about in class. One thing that we talked about in class was good faith and bad faith. Sometimes we do not always know whether people are doing things in good faith or in bad faith. Oftentimes we could perceive that someone might be doing something in good faith, but they might have a suspicious interior motive. For example we talked about in class if you really have a valid reason to miss class you should not come, if you are feeling sick, have a family emergency, or if something comes up that is a big deal those could be all good reasons to miss class. But if you say you are sick we would perceive it to be good faith because you do not want to get anyone else sick, but there may be that suspicious interior motive that a student may have just to skip class because they do not want to go, that would be bad faith but sometimes we will never know because we perceived that the student was doing that in good faith to keep the class healthy. This is similar to the suspicious pants because we can perceive the suspicious pants in different ways just like we can perceive students’ faith to be good when it is not or vice versa.      

         Another thing that I read for class that got me thinking about the way things are perceived just like the suspicious pants did was when I was reading the Bacchae. This story is about a god named Dionysus that looked to be mortal and since he looked mortal all the rest of his royal family did not believe he was a god. But Dionysus was determined to show them that they were wrong. Dionysus was not perceived to be who he actually is based on the way he looked. When Dionysus was not perceived in the way that he wanted to be he raised madness on the palace. Just like Dionysus was perceived in different ways the suspicious pants can also be perceived in different ways.

          I learned that it is important to practice good faith while taking a course because you will only end up hurting yourself in the long run if you do not. If you are constantly lying and missing class then it will show with your grades. And if you practice good faith regularly your professor is going to be more willing to help you when you are struggling. If everyone practices good faith in the classroom it will run a lot more smoothly.  Also learning about perception can help you think about things more and become more aware. Being more aware can help you plan better which can help you get better grades throughout the course. 

       The suspicious pants was a great way for the class to learn about perception and it related to a lot of things we learn about in class but is also helpful in our day to day life. Without knowing we perceive things all the time whether you are just meeting someone, looking at something or just overhearing a conversation. Perception is a way that we become more aware of things, and it is important to be aware of what is around you. But it is important to keep in mind that our perceptions are not always accurate, and that not everything is as it is seen.

Essay 1

After the first few weeks of class, I have been able to see what this class is really about and dig deep into my brain to find my more creative side that holds new ideas and interesting thoughts of my own. We have read many epigraphs, and all of them have made me more interested in this class. Before starting this class, I thought epigraphs were just inscriptions carved into buildings, statues or coins. After reading a few in the literary sense, I have learned that they are much more than an engravement. Epigraphs are usually a sentence or a paragraph and are used to introduce a larger text. They are usually at the beginning of books, chapters, or other texts. The thing that I think is cool about epigraphs is that they might not make sense at first, but they will make more sense at the end of the text. Which is one of the reasons why the epigraphs that we read within the first week of class made me very excited for the class this semester. Although the epigraphs we read didn’t make much sense to me, I hope they will make more sense by the end of the semester, and help me reflect on how much I grew during this class.

The epigraph that stood out most to me was “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY”, from the book I Am Not Sidney Poitier, written by Percival Everett. This epigraph stood out to me mostly because it was the most relatable for me, and one of the easier ones to understand. Last year I went to school in Arizona and really struggled. It was my first year living alone, and on top of that I was living across the country. After finishing my school year, I decided to transfer somewhere closer to home. This relates to the line in the epigraph, “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something that I’ve lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it.” After transferring to Geneseo, this is how I felt. Although I am still two hours from home, it is much different than a seven hour flight. I felt like I had lost myself at school last year, but after being home for summer and transferring to a new school, I feel like I have connected with something I had lost. After the sentence I mentioned before, Percival Everett says, “What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere.” Although I was happy to be back home, I still feel as though I moved onto a new chapter in my life. Going home helped remind myself who I was as a person, but I didn’t come back to find anything, I came back for a fresh start. 

Another sentence from this epigraph that I resonated with was, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth.” This is how I felt at the school I was at last year. People form opinions on people too fast, based on how they look or the few things that they hear about them. After being at college for a year now, one thing that I have learned is to not judge people until you know them, or never to judge a book by its cover. All throughout high school I felt like people judged me based on the people I was friends with, or what they heard about me from other people. I always hated that because I put a lot of effort into being a good person and doing nice things for people. I have been focusing a lot this year on giving good first impressions, and trying to be as friendly as possible. Another reason why I relate to this part of the epigraph is because people from my past think they know who I am, but over the past year I think I have changed the most that I have in my life so far. So realistically, they have no idea who I am anymore unless I have seen or talked to them since I saw them last. 

One thing that we have talked about in class that has stood out to me and reminds me of  this epigraph is good faith and bad faith. Personally, I really believe in karma. That being said, a lot of my life I put a lot of focus into doing things that will bring me good faith. That is a big part of who I am, and I think that ties into the part of the epigraph that I mentioned earlier in this text, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth.” From the outside I seem like I am very relaxed and don’t care about much, so I feel like a lot of people think that I don’t care much about my faith or karma. I really enjoyed this topic in class, and I could easily relate it to the epigraphs we were shown in the first week of classes. 

By the end of this class, I really hope I can grow as a reader and a writer. Not only that, but I hope that my ability to be creative really develops, and it gets easier for me to make connections with different texts. I am very excited for this class because it seems much different than any English class that I have taken previously. I hope that I can become more comfortable with sharing my opinion, or ideas, along with getting more comfortable reading things even if I don’t understand them right away.  In the past, I have struggled with reading things, not understanding them, and being too scared to share my opinion because I thought it would be wrong. But I have already learned from this class that there are no right or wrong answers, and in order to really understand something it helps to talk to my peers about it.

Learning Who I Am

Walking into any class on the first day of a new year is nerve racking for most. Dr. McCoy’s class was no different until she walked in and told us to discuss a “suspicious” pair of pants. I knew this class was not going to be like any I have taken before. Within these past few weeks I have learned that we are encouraged to focus on learning and thinking rather than memorizing and grading. We are to focus on our minds instead of our brains. 

Of our course epigraphs, the quote from Percival Everett’s I am Not Sidney Poitier, stood out to me the most. The quote reads, “‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say: I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY.’” I couldn’t point out exactly what I liked about this particular epigraph when I first read it. I read it over and over again, attempting to find its meaning when I realized that part of what Percival Everett was trying to say is that we search for a meaning in everything when everything is seen differently by each person. This brings my mind back to our discussion of the world threshold, of being in two places at once while also being nowhere. Everything has multiple meanings, so does it really mean anything besides what one thinks matters? 

With this being said, I also realized that different parts of this epigraph had me thinking differently. Everett writes, “I came back to this place to find something…to reunite if not with my whole self, than with a piece of it.” His words remind me of the foundations of this class. We are encouraged to focus on the process, not the product of our writing. Though this is the first thing I am writing, I think this method will teach me about myself and how my mind works when I believe I can just think and write instead of worrying. In one of our readings, a previous student, Laura Skrzypczyk, says that “Maybe we just need someone to say, ‘this is what we hope you’ll get out of this college experience, but these are some alternative possibilities that can happen. That’s the reality. And we’re here for you if it does!’” This similar way of teaching that Dr. McCoy has introduced has me looking forward to learning about myself through process and not judging myself with the product. I think about seeing where I can go when I am not already thinking about the end. I remember when Dr. McCoy said, “Don’t focus on the horizon, because the closer it gets the farther it moves.” 

The second part of the epigraph that sticks out to me reads, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself.” Percival Everett writes that his character sees themselves one way while the people around them see a different person. This sentence makes me think of how we all think about things in a different manner. It brings me back to the class discussions about how differently we all can view texts. As a class we were told that just because we do not understand something does not mean we are lesser than our peers, and in fact, we are likely not alone in our misunderstandings. Through our discussions we have learned that there is no “right” or “wrong” because we learn through ourselves and through each other. 

As a whole, this epigraph deals with learning about yourself and how it is okay if you never quite know everything. It is also okay to grow and change and “not be yourself today.” This is the way I feel we are encouraged to think about ourselves, our writing, and our learning. This brings me to my goals for this semester, and the main one is to actually get into this way of thinking. When writing this post I have caught myself asking if I am writing enough or stressing about what to add. I think this is the way we have been conditioned to think, but when approached with a new way of thinking I have realized that this conditioning does not result in a deep understanding. My goal is to get to know myself better through writing and thinkING.

Open Mindedness

Based on what I have read, done, and experienced during the first-class periods, I have been diving into epigraphs and working with my creative mind and relating these epigraphs to outside situations. These epigraphs are a short quotation or a saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, which detects its theme.

            I have chosen the epigraph of “suspicious pants”, this is because after discussing this epigraph and comparing it to other outside activities and situations I have related to it the most as well as the reading The Art of Scaring. On the first of class, we were told to sit and discuss how this epigraph came off to us and what we think when we investigate it. At first, I just saw a pair of pants and was genuinely confused but the more I talked with my classmates and looked a little harder I discovered something more and looked at the caption above the picture and understood everything about the picture. This epigraph simply demonstrates that it is difficult to dissect something without having a caption explaining what is going on. I have come across many situations along the line of struggling to identify something without the real explanation of what I am looking at or learning, and I connect this to my life deeply. It is hard to live life without “answers” or understanding. I can strongly relate this to school and when I was handed a piece of paper by a professor and told to put something down, no explanation at all. I sat there lost, unsure of what exactly I needed to put down on this paper and that is why explanations, directions or comments are a need in life.

When you think back in your life or any type of scenario you realize life would be a mess without some sort of explanation. How to brush your teeth, how to drive a car, how to apply for a job and so much more. Pretty much everything we do in this world needs to be taught or communicated. After hearing my classmates communicate what they thought the picture of the pair of pants was and then seeing the caption “Suspicious pants” it all added up to us. This is prime definition that we need writing to understand what is happening in any situation. The human brain is powerful, it will see what is wants to see and work how it wants to work. True strength of mind comes from a combination of things, from awareness, focus as well as resiliency. A simple caption can change the perspective of anything and that is why I find it so important. Something I have noticed in this world on social media is funny pictures with the caption “When you see it, comment”, everything is based off vision and then digging in and recognizing what is truly happening in the picture or text. Without the true understanding of certain things assumptions are made which can lead to certain issues, this is where I connect with this epigraph from outside situations because when you hear about arguments a lot of them are started from assumptions, what they SAW. These life issues are solved most of the time by communicating which is why words and explanation is key to live an easier and healthier life.  This epigraph has made me see things on a different level and helped opened my mind for the better.

I can proudly say this epigraph has made me see things on a different level and opened my mind up in many ways. It has made me understand how hard it is to dive into something without instruction or some sort of caption explaining what is going on or what needs to be addressed. I myself have run into many issues where I have seen certain things and did not notice the main issue until someone points it out to me, this is where the mind decided to think what it wants and witness what it wants. This epigraph simply explained that on a deeper level.

In this class I hope to benefit from a ton, from being able to open my mind on different levels and use my ever-growing thinkING skills to become a better writer and individual. I am ecstatic to see how well I can apply my thinking to readings and take in new material at the same time, I am also hoping I become more comfortable with reading and knowing it is okay to not understand what is being addressed but to do all you can as a human being to discover those difficulties.

Finding Goals Through Perspective

From the epigraphs that we have read throughout this course, I chose the one that states the incredibility of the comprehension of a sentence. The epigraph by Percival Everett’s novel Erasure 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”. This epigraph stood out to me from the others because I think its honesty is so true to today’s world and can correlate to some goals I have set for myself for this course.

In Percival Everett’s book titled Erasure, the author prefaces his novel with his epigraph. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms defines the word epigraph by stating, “A passage printed on the title page or first page of a literary work or at the beginning of a section of such a work. Epigraphs, which tend to set the tone or establish the theme of what follows, are generally taken from earlier, influential texts by other authors” (Murfin and Ray, 309). After reading the epigraph from the novel Erasure, I immediately thought of how true his words are. It is often forgotten about how insane it is that any sentence is understood. As Everett says in the epigraph, it is crazy that a string of words can make sense to others but also can be interpreted differently by each individual hearing it. I thought this was very interesting because this occurs in everyday life. People will say things with one intention and others hearing it may take it a different way, similar to what often occurs in The Bacchae. One crucial example in this play was when Dionysus knew that Pentheus was going to die. Before this happened he made reference to Pentheus by stating, “I will escort you there safely, but another will bring you back from there… Yes, my mother!” (Euripides, 153). Pentheus thinks that his mother will be taking him back but he doesn’t know Dionysus’ intentions are to kill him. This is a great way to show how The Bacchae has examples of the epigraph I used. 

Another way to view this epigraph and how I correlated it to my goals for this course was how a student interprets a professor’s expectations. On the first day of any college class, the professor often goes over the syllabus. Although the syllabus mostly has the due dates and required textbooks, what is crucial to the course is the professor’s expectations from their students. On my first day of this course, I was nervous, afraid, and doubted myself. On our first day we went over the syllabus and what Professor McCoy expected from us as a class. After that class had ended, I was happy that the professor’s expectations were made clear and I could reach out if I was ever lost. I often feel like many of my professors make it clear that they don’t really want to be contacted unless absolutely necessary. But in this class, I felt comfortable reaching out to the professor because she wanted to help me. One that first day when we talked about expectations, Professor McCoy made it clear what she was looking for from us. She wanted us to be honest with her, to put in effort into our work, to be proud of our work, and much more. She went into detail about how she respected us as students but expected the respect back. This involved being honest when missing class or asking for an extension. When I first heard her explain how she wanted us to be honest with her I just assumed since this is an english class, she meant do not plagiarize. This is an example of how I took what she was saying about being honest and saw it from a different perspective. She then cleared up what she meant by being honest. After the class had ended, I knew that if I was missing class at any point that I would tell Professor McCoy the truth as to why I was missing rather than a made up excuse that sounded better. I appreciated my professor explaining what she wanted from us and what exactly she meant by honesty. I made it a goal of mine, to be honest with Professor McCoy the entire semester, whether it was about absences, grades, needing help, or anything else. It is interesting to me that if my professor never further explained what she meant by being honest with her, if I would have ever come to the conclusion that she meant in every aspect and not just with my writing. This is a great example of what Percival Everett was talking about in his epigraph. I experienced what he was talking about as Professor McCoy spoke to me about expectations and honesty and I maybe did not take it the exact way she meant it. This is just what happens in any kind of communication and Everett worded it perfectly in his epigraph.

One day in class we spoke about the difference between good and bad faith. As a class we decided that good faith often deals with honesty and sincerity while bad faith deals with lying and being deceitful. We separated into small groups and discussed our personal experiences of dealing with good and bad faith. As I sat there and tried to think of some examples, my mind was blank. After some of my classmates shared some of their examples, I thought of a problem that recently occurred for me involving this class. Over the summer, Professor McCoy sent us a few emails and announcements on canvas stating what textbooks we would need for this course. Since I have had professors in the past who would require multiple very expensive textbooks and never have us use them, I was hesitant about buying the books. I told myself I wanted to wait until I met the professor and had the first class before I spent any money on textbooks. One the first day I realized that Professor McCoy was not lying about what textbooks we would need and that we needed them immediately. I ordered all my textbooks, as soon as I got home but two days later I got an email that every single one of my books for this class was on backorder. I called the bookstore asking if I could cancel the order and they said no. I had two options, spend way more money buying the books somewhere else or just waiting for my books. I decided to wait. I borrowed a book from a friend and did a lot of audiobooks on youtube but if I had just had good faith in my professor and listened to her, I would not be in the predicament I was in. This relates back to the epigraph I chose, because once again, I did not just listen to my professor as I should have. I instead thought maybe she was lying or that the syllabus was not updated. Good faith and bad faith also relate to my chosen epigraph as it can sometimes mean lying and that is an example of bad faith. The reason I explained my experience with my textbooks was because it taught me that I needed to set goals for myself to be more on top of my work. This was a perfect example of my laziness and uncertainty which caused me to not be the best version I could be of myself and be fully prepared for class. Now I make sure that I am checking canvas often, making sure I have all the books I need, and making my calendar clear and organized so I don’t miss anything. I learned from this situation and have since made it a priority of mine to stay on top of my work.

I chose Everett’s epigraph from Erasure to explain how I correlated it with the goals I have set for myself for this class. I found that this specific epigraph truly explained perspective and how others can have different perspectives. This was a great way for me to connect perspective and how I view this course. I also found examples of this epigraph in The Bacchae and with the lecture we had in class about good and bad faith. This epigraph showed me the many examples of perspective for this class and allowed me to discover and set new goals for myself.

Citations

“The Bacchae.” The Bacchae and Other Plays, by Euripides, Penguin Books, 2006, pp. 121–168.

Bedford Glossary of Critical & Literary Terms , by Ross Murfin and Supryia Ray, 2017. 

Accepting my future

Through these first couple weeks of class, I have been able to look at many different epigraphs that have made me think deeply about certain topics. Ive been able to open up a part of my brain that hasn’t been used in a very long time. My creative brain.


One epigraph I was very drawn to and has helped open up my creative mind. Is the one titled “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” written by Percival Everett’s, in the book titled I am Not Sidney Poitier. I relate to this epigraph in the way that it made me feel validated in how I am feeling right now. Being here at college is the first time I’ve ever been away from home. It is bittersweet leaving, and I know I’m supposed to accomplish amazing things here. But since I’ve gone back to my hometown after being at college for just a couple weeks, it doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t feel like its home anymore. Yes, the people are the same and they haven’t changed, but the feeling I get stepping into my bedroom is different than before. The feeling I get driving through the streets of my town, is a different feeling that overwhelms my body. I’m not sure what it is but I definitely know that in a very confusing way it’s reassuring me that I am where I’m supposed to be. Here at college, I am doing everything I can to become the person I dream of being. The quote “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere”(Percival Everett), resonates with me because when I left for college I felt like I was leaving something behind, and in fact I wasn’t. I just needed to accept that I was starting a new part of my life that didn’t involve my hometown. And it was okay that I put myself first and chased my dreams. My mom always told me to think of myself first before I sacrifice my own happiness for others. I think this epigraph in my interpretation is saying the same thing. It’s explaining how Sidney Poitier is returning somewhere to hopefully find a piece of herself she feels is missing, but in reality nothing is missing, and she finds comfort in that. It took returning to this place, to understand who she is and that there’s nothing missing from who she “needs” to be.


Another quote from this epigraph that really resonated with me was “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth”. (Percival Everett) This quote resonates with me because through high school, I was always the type of person everyone used and walked all over. Those people think they know me, as the girl who doesn’t stick up for herself, and never really knows when to tell someone no. I’ve grown a lot since high school. And I’m not that girl anymore. So as much as those people think they “know” me. They don’t know who I am now. A very strong, determined, and powerful person who knows what she wants and will do anything to achieve it. I think this comes from being so young, and having accomplished as much as I have in my life so far, I know my abilities and I will never become that girl ever again. So they will never have the privilege to know who I am now. Just like Sidney Poitier.


Looking through the multiple epigraphs we have gone over in class. I feel as though Professor McCoy as well as these epigraphs have helped reopen my creative brain and helped me work to think deeper about topics. Throughout high school and my past college experience, in all of my classes whenever we had an assignment to write a paper, we were instructed to follow a strict prompt and write for word count. Our creativity was stripped away. Being in this class has really helped open that writing creativity back up. Being forced to look at these different epigraphs, and figure out what they each make me feel, Has made me start THINKing about other things in my day to day life. Being able to look at the deeper meaning of things has helped me be able to write this essay, that at first I was very unsure about. It was hard for me to grasp what the concept was because it is more of a “your interpretation” paper rather than spitting facts and bull-shitting about topics we don’t necessarily resonate with. I’m excited to keep using my THINKing skills, and dive deeper into this course, being able to use my interpretation of different topics and write more essays that use my creative thinking skills that I always knew I had, but was never able to use.