Akhmatova Discussion Post — MaryBeth

My AT section decided that Anderson’s translation of Akhmatova’s “Requiem” preserves the artistic value and poetic expression that Akhmatova intended. Even if it is not a direct translation, the aesthetic and the emotional intent is conveys better than Thomas’ translation. It seems as if Anderson took some creative liberties in order to maintain the rhyming and cadence of the piece. This is best exemplified in the last poem, “Epilogue.” We all agreed on this.

!: Interesting how regimes restrict poetry and art because of its inherent politicism

?: Was the Tsar’s regime more authoritarian than Stalin’s?

MaryBeth M-V Unit 6 Monday Post


“At one pole, the scientific culture really is a culture, not only in an intellectual but also in an anthropological sense” (9). I had never thought about how people within the sciences view other scientists in a certain light or have inside stereotypes about them even within the broader coalition of the sciences. The humanities are more cohesive it seems.


“This culture contains a great deal of arguments, usually much more rigorous and almost always at a higher conceptual level than literary persons’ arguments.” (12). How does he define conceptual level? Sciences are more esoteric; does that equate to a higher conceptual level just because humanities are broader and require less special education and structured training to engage in speculation?

Among the top 10 scientific theories, I recognized

  • Heliocentrism
  • Evolution through natural selection
  • Quantum Theory
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Oxygen Theory of Combustion
  • Game Theory

Scientific experiments

  • Mendelian Genetics
  • Marie Curie’s work with radioactivity
  • Pavlov’s Dogs

Monaco-Vavrik Unit 2 post 3; 10-6-19

Option 2:

I think the best way to make people care about truth when communicating with others or delivering a message is to emphasize accountability. To make people care about when they personally speak, they have to have an audience that cares about the truth and will make them stay central to the point and honest. In order for this to happen, the masses need to care about the truth. To craft this, people have to adopt dedication to the truth as a moral responsibility. A possible way to create this degree of severity would be to make people aware of the consequences of falsehoods. These consequences can vary, but have the ability to gradually degrade the fabric of transparency and trust within a society.

Option 3:

In Frankfurt’s piece on bullshit, I found his ultimate conclusion that sincerity itself is bullshit, confusing. If sincerity is bullshit based on the idea that we don’t know ourselves completely and don’t know others because we “respond only in response to other things”, does that really mean no one can be genuine? I found this puzzling because he is saying that there is no way to know oneself because we can’t know everyone else. It seems far-fetched to claim that nobody knows themselves, or that we need knowledge of everyone else in order to be sincere. I believe sincerity is about intention, so I’m not sure what his expectation of the human capacity for knowledge is.

MaryBeth M-V 9-29-19 Post

  1. Question: According to tradition, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said (I paraphrase), “You can’t step into the same river twice”. His idea seemed to be that just as the water in a river is constantly changing, so our world—everything—is in constantly in flux, so that nothing persists for more than a moment: there is no stable reality. Has modern science confirmed this view? What do you think Plato would say in response?

Modern science has confirmed the fluctuation of atoms and movement on a molecular level, so that it is true; everything in our world is changing so that it is impossible to reside permanently in any exact, in the literal sense of the word, stable reality. I think Plato would agree with this statement. He would agree that the quest for knowledge, however uncomfortable, is an essential part of the human experience. The idea that our world is constantly shifting, and nothing is permanent and concrete, is one of these uncomfortable truths. A man who attempts to tell others this is sure to be met with opposition, just as in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the man who leaves the cave is faced with disbelief and even anger. 

Option 2:

The panel raised some provocative questions on the meaning of translating– whether meaning or direct words were more important if they are mutually exclusive. I’m still unsure on what is more important; direct words carry meaning, but meaning can sometimes be better conveyed through different words. It is a question I still don’t know the answer to and would like to discuss further.

MaryBeth Monaco-Vavrik, Malouf Writing Post 9-1-19

“This question made me smile for a long time. Today, it no longer does. It reveals to me a dangerous and common attitude men have. When I am asked who I am “deep inside of myself,” it means there is, deep inside each one of us, one “belonging” that matters, our profound truth, in a way, our “essence” that is determined once and for all at our birth and never changes. As for the rest, all of the rest –the path of a free man, the beliefs he acquires, his preferences, his own sensitivity, his affinities, his life –all these things do not count. And when we push our contemporaries to state their identity, which we do very often these days, we are asking them to search deep inside of themselves for this so-called fundamental belonging, that is often religious, nationalistic, racial or ethnic and to boast it, even to a point of provocation” (Malouf).

This passage stood out to me in particular because I have had almost identical experiences as the one Malouf describes. When initially faced with this question, I also found it mildly amusing. I eventually came to the conclusion that this question was a microaggression. However, this passage elaborated further on this. I wanted to delve deeper into an idea that has persisted so much in my life as an Asian-American.

I thought I understood the whole of this passage, but at further examination, I was unclear on Malouf’s intention when he said, “As for the rest, all of the rest –the path of a free man, the beliefs he acquires, his preferences, his own sensitivity, his affinities, his life –all these things do not count.” At first, I interpreted this sentiment to mean when people require a simple answer to the question of identity, they want to ignore the complexities that life experience has on said identity. Through further analysis and contextualization, I came to understand that Malouf believes identity to not only be a result of ethnic, national, or religious factions, but a culmination of aspects of personality. I found this connection between personality and identity intriguing. Other humesters upon further discussion believed Malouf thinks identity is much more subjective.

I believe Malouf uses this passage to highlight the greater implications of people’s ignorance on the perception of human complexity– how in reality, a seemingly harmless question can reduce someone and disregard the essence of their being. This better underlines his overall point that people oversimplify the question of identity, but it adds more severity to the act.

I found this to be profound in the context of a point brought up in our Thursday lecture about our tendency to simplify others while maintaining our complexity. While we would never discount our life experiences as part of our identity, we are quick to discount the experiences of others for the sake of simplicity. 

Unit 1 Assignment 1 by MaryBeth Monaco-Vavrik

Group A:

Question: Why do people tend to oversimplify questions of identity?

Agree on: replacing tokenization with genuine respect and a voice, broadening who is in the narrative while focusing on marginalized perspectives, the consequences of reducing our own identities to fit the loudest or more prominent identity.

Disagree on: the effect of microaggressions and intent vs. impact (varying analysis of severity)