Explaining Reading & Memory Gaps

Being a bookworm all my life with an almost finished master’s degree in literature doesn’t necessarily make me a good point person to remember details of ALL the books I’ve devoured in my lifetime. More often than not, I come up blank when asked about details, even plots of my so-called favorite books. Why? Well, The Atlantic came up with a very good article on why we remember very little, especially in this day and age.

The “forgetting curve,” as it’s called, is steepest during the first 24 hours after you learn something. Exactly how much you forget, percentage-wise, varies, but unless you review the material, much of it slips down the drain after the first day, with more to follow in the days after, leaving you with a fraction of what you took in.

Presumably, memory has always been like this. But Jared Horvath, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, says that the way people now consume information and entertainment has changed what type of memory we value—and it’s not the kind that helps you hold onto the plot of a movie you saw six months ago.

 

Read on here.

Why is dystopia so appealing to young adults?

Why is the current crop of dystopian fiction is so popular with teenage readers?

by Moira Young

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/23/dystopian-fiction

Vampires, fallen angels and their brooding kin still crowd the young-adult shelves of your local bookstore. But they are having to make room for a new wave of dystopian fiction, kicked off by the jaw-dropping success of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy, set in a post-apocalyptic North American totalitarian state.

Books for young people set in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian worlds are not new. Three notable early examples are Madeleine L’Engle’s science fantasy A Wrinkle in Time (1962), William Sleator’s suspense novel House of Stairs (1974) and the politically intriguing The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry. Some of the big names of the new wave, along with Collins, are British-based American author Patrick Ness, Mortal Engines writer Philip Reeve, and young adult science-fiction novelist Scott Westerfeld. But what is it that attracts teenage readers to dystopian fiction?

There are a number of opinions, but the main drift seems to be that books set in either chaotic or strictly controlled societies mirror a teenager’s life; at school, at home, with their peers and in the wider world. Let’s call it the “my own private dystopia” theory.

I’m going to offer a much simpler explanation. Teenagers like to read dystopian fiction because it’s exciting. It all comes down to the story. The story comes first, and the setting – extraordinary though it may be – is of secondary importance.

For the most part, dystopian fiction owes more to myth and fairytale than science fiction. These are essentially heroes’ journeys – they just happen to be set in an imagined future world. The hero, reluctant or willing, is just as likely to be female as male. Something happens – an event, or a messenger arrives bearing news – and the teenage protagonist is catapulted out of their normal existence into the unknown. They cross the threshold into a world of darkness and danger, of allies and enemies, and begin a journey towards their own destiny that will change their world. They will be tested, often to the very edge of death. The stakes are high. The adults are the oppressors. The children are the liberators. It’s heady stuff, far removed from the routine of everyday life.

The outer, global journey of the characters is matched by an inner, emotional and psychological journey. These are no cartoon superheroes. They, like their teen readers, have to deal with recognisable concerns and problems, including friendship, family, betrayal, loss, love, death and sexual awakening.

A new wave of dystopian fiction at this particular time shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s the zeitgeist. Adults write books for teenagers. So anxious adults – worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we’re leaving for the young – write dystopian books.

We create harsh, violent worlds. These are dark, sometimes bleak stories, but that doesn’t mean they are hopeless. Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope. It wouldn’t be right. We always leave a candle burning in the darkness.

And we write good stories. That’s why teenagers read them.

• Moira Young’s new book, Blood Red Road, is published by Marion Lloyd Books/Scholastic

Roald Dahl’s 10 best villains

http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/62884819.html

In an interview with Donald Sturrock, Roald Dahl once said, “I go down to my little hut, where it’s tight and dark and warm, and within minutes I can go back to being six or seven or eight in.” And that is exactly why we love Dahl — for his ability to get childhood exactly right. It’s a scary world out there, and tall people with bad facial hair and even worse attitudes tend to run the show, which makes life especially frightening to those of us who are less colossal or hirsute. In honor of the English novelist’s recent birthday, we present a group of memorable villains from his children’s stories.

#1 Miss Agatha Trunchbull from ‘Matilda’

The headmistress at Crunchem Hall Primary School is a holy terror; the tall, sweatshirt-wearing, “big-boned” administrator doesn’t hesitate to swing girls by their braids or lock someone in a small, glass-filled cupboard affectionately named “the Chokey.” With one look, she can strike fear into the hearts of all the children at Matilda’s school. Only a heartless, megalomaniac villain would utter the command, “In this classroom, in this school, I am God!”

#2 The Grand High Witch from ‘The Witches’

The Grand High Witch is the scariest, most powerful witch in all the world, and her mission is to get rid of human children — either by trapping them in paintings, turning them into rodents, or other equally frightening methods. She’s aided by a legion of bald-headed baddies who are often seen wearing gloves and pearls. Dahl’s 1983 children’s book sparked a controversy among some sensitive souls over the fact that all of the evildoers were female. In an interview Dahl said, “I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women.”

#3 Mr. and Mrs. Twit from “The Twits”

“What a lot of hairy-faced men one sees nowadays.” The Twits are a hirsute, smelly, filthy, and brutish couple who are perfect for each other. They enjoy devising calculated acts of cruelty toward animals, and absolutely hate small children. What is wrong with these people?

#4 Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge from “James and the Giant Peach”

James’ aunts, Spiker and Sponge, are a comically-paired duo, though they would not find their differences something to laugh about at all. In fact, they both believe they are breathtakingly gorgeous, even though the larger of the two wears horrible baby doll dresses and the other is some sort of rail-thin gothic horror. At one point, a very plump Aunt Sponge even says, “Just feast your eyes upon my face, observe my shapely nose. Behold my heavenly silky locks, and if I take off both my socks, you’ll see my dainty toes.” James, we pity you.

#5 Fleshlumpeater from “The BFG”

The Fleshlumpeater is one of nine giants in the book, and he’s the baddest of the bad by far. He’s twice as large as the BFG and a thousand times meaner, but in the end he’ll get his comeuppance. Enjoy your snozzcumbers, sucker!

#6 Mr. Wormwood from “Matilda”

Matilda’s father is described in the book as a “small ratty looking man” who wears garish checkered suits that are likely made of polyester. He often boasts to Matilda about the fact that he is so good at swindling his customers at his used car lot, where the markup is astronomically high, and he absolutely hates all forms of reading. The man is a bully and a total rube.

#7 Boggis, Bunce, and Bean from “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

This dastardly trio monopolize the market on ducks, chickens, and turkeys in this cautionary tale of greed and revenge. After the farmers try to “smoke ’em out” of his home, Mr. Fox digs a tunnel with his family and hides deep underground. At this point, Mr. Fox, a cunning thief, tunnels into each of their coops, storerooms, and cellars in order to raid the place and feed his hungry family and friends while the ignorant, vengeful trio keeps watch above ground in the pouring rain. It’s not for nothing that the song goes, “Boggis and Bunce and Bean, One fat, one short, one lean, These horrible crooks, So different in looks, Were nonetheless equally mean.”

#8 Mr. Victor Hazell from “Danny, the Champion of the World”

Mr. Victor Hazell is a terrible landlord and a complete snob who owns a vast English estate and picks on Danny, a child, for no good reason. Mr. Hazell is also really into hosting pheasant-shooting parties, which is just weird. Our last complaint against the man is that he’s way too into guarding his forest against looters — maybe he should charge less rent and people wouldn’t be trying to poach pheasants off his land in order to survive. Just a thought. #9 Veruca Salt from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Oh, Veruca. You’re the worst! Your shrill, incessant demands are always taken seriously by the adults around you, which has made you a very spoiled little girl. “I want it now” cannot be made into a song, darling, trust us. It’s just bad manners. Charlie is the last child standing in the end, which means he, the meek product of a ramshackle two-room home, will inherit Wonka’s wonderful chocolate factory and not Veruca. How do you like them apples, Ms. Salt?

#10 The Enormous Crocodile in…”The Enormous Crocodile”

Okay, this one is simple. It’s an ENORMOUS CROCODILE. Do you really think this thing isn’t going to try and devour you? He even advertises that his aim is to eat children while tramping through the forest one day. (No, we don’t know why he’s in a forest. Just go with it?) His skin is scaly, his nails are long, and his appetite is insatiable. For payback, check out Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes in order to discover how to eat such a vile animal. What’s your favorite Roald Dahl character/villain, ONTD? Source

10 Syndromes named after literary works/characters

[http://isaw08.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/10-syndromes-named-after-literary-workscharacters/]

The term “syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms which consistently occur together, or a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions or behavior. Most of these are named after the doctors or psychologist who first diagnosed the associated symptoms.

However, there are exceptions. There are syndromes that are named after popular literary figures and works that shows some associated symptoms:

  1. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
    Unlike the namesake of this disorder, sufferers of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome perceive their body parts and other objects in altered sizes even if they don’t consume weird things with “Drink Me!” or “Eat Me!” on their labels. AIWS is commonly associated with migraines, brain tumors, use of psychoactive drugs, and signs of epilepsy and mononucleosis. This is also called Todd’s Syndrome.
  2. Rapunzel Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the fairy tale princess with beautiful and astonishingly long hair in one of Brothers Grimm’s bedtime stories. The Rapunzel Syndrome is a rare intestinal condition in humans resulting from tricophagia, or the abnormal urge to eat one’s hair. This diagnosis is medically referred to as trichobezoar. In ancient times, the hair found in intestinal tracks are believed to be an elixir of some sort, able to cure lots of diseases.
  3. Cinderella Syndrome
    Named after the main character in one of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, this syndrome refers to the common phenomenon in kids where they make exaggerated stories about how they are abused, mistreated, or neglected by adoptive/step-parents. This is different from ‘Cinderella Complex’, which is said to be women’s fear of independence and an unconscious desire to be taken care of by ‘stronger’ others (like metaphorical Fairy God moms or Princes Charming).
  4. Peter Pan Syndrome
    “I don’t want to grow up!” says J.M. Barrie’s popular character from Neverland. According to pop-psychology, sufferers of Peter Pan Syndrome are adults who are socially immature. They tend to avoid responsibilities and often feel the need to be mothered.
  5. Dorian Gray Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the handsome main character of Oscar Wilde’s bookThe Picture of Dorian Gray who sells his soul so that his portrait will age instead of himself. Sufferers of DGS are characterized by an excessive preoccupation with their physical appearances and youth, thus having problems in terms of coping with aging. Often, people with DGS have narcissistic traits and are heavily reliant on cosmetic procedures and products.
  6. Othello Syndrome
    Sufferers of Othello syndrome, very much like the namesake of this disorder from one of Shakespeare’s works,  are characterized by intense and often delusional distrust of their partners. This syndrome is also called morbid jealousy and is often associated with alcoholism and sexual dysfunction. It can also be found in the context of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  7. Pollyanna Syndrome
    Named after Eleanor Porter’s protagonist in her best-selling children’s book, Pollyanna Syndrome is the psychological phenomenon wherein a person becomes blindly or foolishly optimistic to a point that it’s almost delusional.
  8. Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome
    The Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome is more like a mentality than a disorder. It got its name from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale where no one in town—until the kid speaks—is pointing out that the Emperor is naked because no one wants to be called ‘stupid’ or ‘unfit’ for their positions. People who have ECS claim that they know something even if they don’t, in order to avoid being judged as stupid or intellectually inferior to others.
  9. Mowgli Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the beloved main character of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli. Mowgli is a boy who is raised by animals. Kids with this syndrome are said to have weak mental and/or physical traits, especially those who have suffered tremendous emotional stress due to parental neglect and abuse.
  10. Huckleberry Finn Syndrome
    This is named after one of Mark Twain’s boy characters that became darlings to the readers, Huck Finn. It’s a psychodynamic complex in which the obligations and responsibilities avoided as a child, eventuate into frequent job changes and absenteeism as an adult. The HFS may be a defense mechanism linked to parental rejection, low self-esteem and depression in an intelligent person.