Picture This

May 17, 2007

Today our yearbook was distributed to those who wanted to pay five bucks to get it early. My fellow staffers and I put a lot of work into this thing; to see it finished and in ours hands is very, very exciting. As copy editor I had the task of writing the opening copy – stating the theme and purpose of the book, as well as whatever other stuff I could come up with. =) As I read it now I see places where I would’ve changed this or that, but as is typical with my reading of my finished work, I am usually unsatisfied. So here I reproduce for you the opening to the 2006-2007 yearbook, Picture This.

Picture THIS

The world was a rapidly changing place at the turn of the 20th century. Optimism motivated experimentation and exploration. Technological marvels like the airplane and the automobile would soon astonish and delight the masses. It was during this time that George Eastman made his cameras household names. No longer was photography something for the wealthy and skilled; anyone could now snap a picture, take it to be developed, and keep the memory forever.

Cameras have evolved since the days of George Eastman. Cheap and disposable cameras provide instant gratification with little work, and, for those who desire more detail, sophisticated cameras allow for more control of the photo being produced. Because of these innovations, photographs are more prevalent than ever in our lives; pictures line our wallets, hang on our walls, and decorate our workspaces.

But why do we take so many pictures, and why is photography such a large part of our lives? Why do we find that any important event, whether it be a baby’s entrance into this world, a bridal shower, or a birthday party, is incomplete without a camera nearby, ready to capture that one pivotal moment: the baby’s first cry, the bride’s expression as she opens her gifts, and the boy’s smile as he blows out the candles on the cake.

The answer

Part of the answer lies in the photograph’s ability to capture a moment, to retain what would otherwise be forever lost. Memories, like flowers, untimely fade, but pictures keep the important times of our lives always present, unlocking what our minds unwillingly forget because of the mind’s frailty.

Capturing the essence of the moment, however, is not the only thing that fascinates people with photography. It is photography’s ability to allow a person to capture the moment the way he saw it that continually draws people to pictures. With each picture the photographer conveys the story of what happened through his eyes, telling all who see the finished product, “Picture this. My way.”

Picture the first day of school. Students, frantically confused about how to open their lockers, lose concentration as they hear the blaring car horns of the senior class. Passing through with great excitement, the seniors commemorate their last “first day of school” in an unforgettable way.

Or picture that one hushed moment of anticipation at the Christmas band and choir concert. The audience, eagerly awaiting any sound to interrupt the silence, sits excitedly. Suddenly a quient chord escapes the mouths of the vocalists, or a trumpet majestically exudes a fanfare to quiet the silence and to enthrall the audience. Past times of practice culminate in a memorable performance.

Picture the clock ticking and the basketball players shuffling anxiously up and down the court, playing tough for a well deserved win. The buzzer sounds, but the ball has already left the players’s hands. Knocking against the backboard and directly into the basket, the ball signals the crowd’s ferocious, roaring response.

Perhaps you can picture the constant scratching of pencils on numerous sheets of papers, transforming lead marks into vivid essays from AP students. These students’ prevailing thoughts become trophies of hard work.

Maybe you can picture yourself years from now, picking up this yearbook and looking at pictures of teachers and friends, experiencing the pang of bitterness and the warm sweetness that these personal touches and pictorial treasures bring to the heart.

Picture all these things, and picture the essence of the moment how we saw it, how we experienced it.

Picture this.

Look Deeper Still

But perhaps an even deeper answer to why we love to take pictures exists. The Scriptures’ poetic description of the creation of the cosmos culminates in the creation of Man, the only part of creation endowed with God’s very own image. This image giving demonstrates a great truth: human beings are pictures of God.

Humanity, full of life and creativity and beauty, could have reflected God’s image in a multitude of ways. Man, however, fell from grace and marred himself, destroyed the picture God took of Himself.

To remedy this situation, God sent his Son, the “image of the invisible God.” Jesus Christ was, and is, the perfect picture of God: reflecting God where humanity had failed and revealing the very heart of God on the cross. Because of His love, God deemed these distorted pictures to be worth much more than a thousand words – we were worth the death of His very Son. Now those who have come into the community of faith in His resurrection are having their lives, their pictures, restored through the power of the Spirit. At the coming of Christ the Spirit will finish His restoring work, adding brilliant color to those pictures that faded long ago and giving them what eye has not seen and what ear has not heard. Now picture that.


Crime and Punishment

August 16, 2006

Because of my participation in AP classes last year and this year, I have done and will do a fair amount of writing. As I receive my essays or papers and think they’re at least half-way decent, I’ll post them on here.

Here’s my book report, completed around one in the morning the day it was due, on Crime and Procrastination Punishment, with some slight alteration. If you haven’t read the book, there are major spoilers since the report concerns the plot.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterful work, Crime and Punishment, provides a thorough treatment on the nature of man and criminal acts. Through brilliant storytelling, Dostoevsky brings together a host of characters who, seemingly not related at all, interact to provide a suspenseful, deep, and believable world in 19th century Petersburg, Russia. At the center of this story is Rodion “Rodya” Romanovich Raskolnikov, a former university student with a murderous mind. The plot can be broken into three parts: the events leading up to the murder, the murder itself and the subsequent events, and the events culminating in Rodya’s confession.

In the introduction of the book, Dostoevsky acquaints his readers with Rodya and his meager living situation, and also with the morbid thoughts that seem to plague him from time to time. In what seems to be a bit of a scattered section, Rodya actually spends much time walking his city and interacting with a host of characters, most notably Mr. Marmeladov who becomes, with his family, incredibly influential later on in the plot. Eventually, Raskolnikov learns that the woman whom he seeks to murder will be left alone at a certain time, and this spurs him to take back up the evil desires which he had previously renounced concerning her.
Raskolnikov succeeds in putting an axe to the head of Alyona Ivanovna, and also does the same to her younger sister, a detail which was unforeseen in his plans. Instead of robbing Alyona the pawn-broker, Rodya only takes the money for a short while and finally deposits most of it under a rock in an abondoned area. Immense paranoia ensues for Raskolnikov, who cannot live at peace after the crime, being in a more miserable state than he was before the crime. After the crime, Rodya meets the family of Marmeladov more closely, and also becomes reuinited with his own family.
The characters and subplots that Dostoevsky introduced in the beginning of the book all join in surprising ways to pressure Raskolnikov to his breaking point. The chief investigator is highly suspicious of Rodya, and allows Rodya to be well aware of it. Family pressures lead Rodya to break off with this family and to find solace only in Marmeladov’s daughter, Sonia, who is also a harlot. Things become too much for Rodya, and, as one character so aptly puts it, Raskolnikov is left with the options of “the bullet or Siberia.”
Rodya chooses Siberia, which is prison, and instead of jumping into the river and committing suicide, he enters the police station and confesses that he is the murderer.
This riveting story concludes with Rodya imprisoned for eight years. During his sentence his mother dies, and his sister marries his best friend. The most important change for Raskolnikov during his imprisonment, however, is the blossoming of his love for Sonia. After he wraps his arms around her in an act of sheer love, his seven year sentence is no longer a tremendous burden; instead, he, like Jacob, will work happily to finish his term and enter into the happiness that awaits him with Sonia.
This book can be given nothing less than superior praise. It succeeds as a “psychological thriller”, as the introduction describes it, and boasts some passages of paranoia that are very fun to read. The reader is truly thrown into Rodya’s mind, and he learns what a frightening and fearful place it can be. The book was thoroughly enjoyable and should be required reading for all high school students.