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Essay based on an aphorism - Black Tees in August


cburns 1 / 6  
Sep 27, 2009   #1
Assignment: To write an essay based on an aphorism (for example, "you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink" or one I like: "Be good and you will be lonesome - Mark Twain)

I am having no problem finding a plethora of aphorisms I can use. However, for every one I try, I go into these moral depths that I DO NOT want to write about for my english 101 class. I can't find a single one that doesn't find it's way to a core with some deep-seeded moral strings attached. Lately the world seems rather raunchy to me and I don't want to convey this in a class essay. I want to write something light-hearted. Any ideas on how to get around this? This is my third day trying and I'm having an rough go at getting this essay started.

Thanks ahead of time!

Essay based on Aphorism - Let me know your thoughts! Thank you!

This is an example essay based on an aphorism
It is supposed to include vivid imagery and grammatical accuracy.
Sentence structure, transition, clear thesis etc.
Vivid imagery is key though. Do you think I need more drawn out anecdotes?
Thanks ahead of time for your criticism.

Black Tees in August

Common decency is not so common, but love is all around us. If everyone gave an ounce of the profoundly tender, passionate affection they have for their special someone and used it to tame their middle finger, being in crowded areas would be much more tolerable. Without getting into developmental psychology, it seems people are being raised to be lovers, while simultaneously taught to disregard others.

Love is a must; common decency is an afterthought. When a world-weary waitress gets an order wrong and the customer berates her and withholds her tip; when the vacuous girl wearing the tight black t-shirt that says spoiled brat doesn't notice the marauding eyes of the man staring at her chest; when the unleashed dog steals the food out of your child's hand while the owner pretends to not have noticed -a snapshot spectrum of indecent behavior. However, for every dirty deed there is also someone declaring love. August's schedule full with weddings, a new father pushing a stroller down an oak lined avenue, a house warm with laughter, the rosy blush of a pretty girl, a man calling out "I love you" as his wife walks out the door. I don't know if many would refute the niceties of seeing someone in love. However, no one can refute the intolerable actions of those who are not in love with you. There is an undeniable void between love and our day to day interactions.

The things that we love are precious and they're ours. Although, those things that are not ours seems be up for grabs and open to manipulation. Brick walls are manipulated to represent someone's limited vocabulary. Stop signs are manipulated to represents someone's ability to shoot a gun. A hand is manipulated to represent the phrase "I hate you." A woman is manipulated to represent a man's possessive nature. The abrasive spirit of human action is ever-present and becoming more socially acceptable. I don't think anyone is entirely exempt from this extremity of human nature. Apart from the most heinous of actions, everyone fans the fire. Be it public defacement or buying a copy of US weekly. It could be due to lack of patience or certain exhaustion; most work long hard hours. Some have compromising living situations. People get bored or careless. Who knows, we're all human, right? A slip or a nonchalant eye-roll happens every once in a while. I don't think anyone has the luxury of throwing stones. However, what is intriguing and most representative of the aforementioned void, is the blatant choice to be absolutely rude yet have a desire for and expect love.

There is a duplicitous nature represented in the woman who wears the shirt with b-i-t-c-h scrolled across it. She wants onlookers to think she's heard-hearted, yet normal in that she loves the family she goes home to; her husband and her children. Our love is not to be shared with those outside our family, she tells us. She has nothing to give anyone else. Again, we know this because she is a... you know what. Most likely, her husband condones this behavior and has his own duplicitous way of representing love and hate. There is also a good chance her children will grow up to embody the same cliché.

Whatever the word love means to anyone, it is everywhere. The media loves it. Hallmark and Hollywood love it. August loves it. Little girls dream about love. Love means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For most, it is the emotion shared with those closest to you. It's the initial intensity one feels when the word is first heard by a lover and the adoring confirmation of his feelings later. It's when a mother whispers "I love you" to her child so they can both sleep sound at night. As special as the word is to those we deeply care about, it's also perfectly acceptable to say to a friend, "I love your shirt!" No one really loves her shirt. Regardless, the word is used with inappropriate emphasis daily. The media's taken notice and has for some time capitalized on our sacred word. What is happening to the word love? It is uttered during the most profound moments of our life, but more often used to describe a movie or sell a product. The word is thrown all over meaningless things. It seems to be an inborn statement known by all and said on cue. The word has been irreparably trivialized.

Although the feral friends, love and hate, run rampant and unaccounted for in our society, that void, where common decency should mediate, isn't dead. It's just buried under all the rubbish. Years ago, while on a road-trip, I left my wallet in a gas station in another state on the other side of the country. I was sorely depressed and pouted a great deal over the sudden hardship of lost identity and magnetic plastic. Although, to my absolute joy, midday following the incident I received a phone call from the gas station attendant informing me that my number was in a wallet he found! He put the wallet in the mail and it was waiting for me when I got home. For all the debauchery and rude behavior witnessed day by day, a sudden act of kindness is just as welcome as one's first "I love you." Kurt Vonnegut, an iconic satirist, once so beauteously said, "Please, a little less love and a little more common decency." Who can argue?

Jin 11 / 37  
Sep 27, 2009   #2
maybe you can forces on the breadth of the aphroism instead of the depth.

(sorry, i cannot provide with a specific example...)

say something about the examples,your personal experience and so on.
OP cburns 1 / 6  
Sep 27, 2009   #3
I agree. For example if I stick with Twain's quote I can easily talk about this. But when drawing upon personal experiences the essay turns sour. Maybe I should just let it. Be a little more broad and not make it specifically about me? Easier said than done though. :/ Thanks for your advice, Jin
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Sep 27, 2009   #4
I don't understand where your problem arises. Pick one, explain its meaning, where it originates from, and any historical context. You may further discuss how obective-subjective it is, whether you agree or disagree as a matter of personal experience, etc.

You don't have to rail against anyone.
If you find yourself unable to get started on any of them, absent a discussion on morality, maybe it's best that you do write about it from that perspective because you feel something so strongly.
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Sep 27, 2009   #5
You fail to explain what Twain meant by those words. Do some research to arrive at a blueprint for what Twain had in mind.

When you understand what was intended, then you'll be in a position to write an essay with conviction that you're not bastardizing through haphazard guesswork Twain's original analysis. The essay's quality will in turn manifestly improve by its increased accuracy, credibility, and laser vision.

That's not to say you can't augment with your interpretation and ensuing discussion. It is to say you should preserve in close form, at least at the outset, the biographical basis.

Submit again heeding what I've recommended or wait for more feedback.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 27, 2009   #6
Those who don't participate in the naughty behavior society indulges in may find themselves quite alone.

Well, you do explain what Twain means, as the above quotation clearly shows. However, I can see why Mustafa said you didn't -- you go off topic pretty quickly, and only barely touch on it again at all.

You might look in more detail at what it means to be "good." After all, what does it say about our conception of goodness if so few of us act according to it? You could also focus on how else the saying could be interpreted. For instance, could it be that many of the things that are thought of as "naughty" are in fact not immoral at all. Are many "vices" not so much real vices as merely things that some people happen to disapprove of? In which case, might it be that adopting a haughty, holier-than thou attitude becomes isolating? Or could it be that doing the right thing consistently and standing up for your principles is hard because it is isolating, as so few people ever act so nobly? And is this then a condemnation of society? Your own interpretation is probably closer to what Twain had in mind as his main meaning, but most aphorisms have multiple interpretations, and it can be fun to think about how those interpretations overlap and conflict in various ways.
OP cburns 1 / 6  
Sep 27, 2009   #7
I decided to change my aphorism and went in a different direction. I think I didn't have a clear idea of what "naughtiness" I wanted to speak of and I wasn't sure where to take the essay. I also didn't like the tone of it.

I chose, instead, Vonnegut's: Please... A little less love and a little more common decency. I can draw from more personal stories. It's more light-hearted - less broad and more cohesive. I'll post when I am finished with my first draft. I very much appreciate your reading my post and the questions you pose. I enjoy writing but have much to learn. So any criticism is invaluable.
OP cburns 1 / 6  
Oct 2, 2009   #8
I think there are parts - especially in the middle where sentences are too choppy. Also is a "brick wall being manipulated to represent someone's limited vocabulary" too vague?

I don't want anything to be vague - vivid is the idea. Please let me know. I'm going to continue working on it.

Thank you!


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