Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reading Analysis 9/23

John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent,” William Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” and Stacy Schiff’s “Can Wikipedia conquer expertise” all touch upon the relationship between flaw and the human condition. Schiff hints at the imperfections of collective human thought, while Shakespeare focuses on the superficial flaws of his lover and Milton laments over on his own personal faults. Though the focus of each writer differs, they ultimately come to the same conclusion that these flaws cannot simply be ignored but must be embraced as a part of life.
Shakespeare begins by comparing the physical features of his lover to several more beautiful aspects of nature. Though seemingly harsh at times, the relationship Shakespeare appears to be portraying with his lover is one that has withstood overtime. This relationship has passed the early stages that rely on physical attraction and has entered a more emotional realm. Despite her many physical flaws, the writer cannot simply deny his love for her. The truth of his comparisons of her physical appearance early in the poem mirrors the truth of his love for her that is professed in the final two lines.
In his poem, Milton takes Shakespeare’s criticizing eye and turns it inward on himself. Reflecting on his past, the writer feels as though his life has lacked a sense of purpose and that he has yet to live up to his potential. He attributes his failures to the loss of his eyesight and makes no attempt to hide his depression. And yet it is the loss of his external eyesight that awakens his internal eyesight and allows himself to evaluate his life. Though bitter that he has lost his eyesight the writer may believe that his days of searching are far from over. Though blind, God may still have a purpose for him that he must wait to find out. If one were to consider this poem to be a commentary of Milton’s own life and depression, he had been blind for four years when this was written, it can be argued that the “gift” he is waiting for is his writing ability. Thus through this poem Milton has found his life’s purpose.
Though a majority of the article focuses on the creation and development of Wikipedia, Schiff inadvertently touches upon the problem that arises with the construction of social thought. Because it is a public encyclopedia, one that anyone has the ability to update and change the information on, Wikipedia often falls victim to the opposing thoughts and views of its contributors. Combined with the occasional graffiti of cyber-sociopaths, Wikipedia’s credibility is questionable at best and yet the website itself continues to grow. As an encyclopedia for the people by the people, it draws in a crowd of both contributors and viewers that ranges from 15-year olds sitting around during their lunch break with nothing better to do to accomplished university professors with a passion for a specific topic. It is in its imperfections that Wikipedia ultimately finds itself as both a “beautiful and dangerous” entity.

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