Why Compare?

In the now-iconic ‘2 mothers in a hdb playground’, Arthur Yap gives us these quintessentially Singaporean lines from two mothers comparing their children, ah beng and kim cheong (italics mine):

ah beng is so smart,
already he can watch tv and know the whole story
your kim cheong is also quite smart,
what boy is he in the exam? […]

kim cheong eats so little.
give him some complan. my ah beng was like that,
now he’s different, if you give him anything
he’s sure to finish it all up.

We compare people, places, things all the time in real life. We might even argue, Bloom’s Taxonomy be d**ned, that comparison is a cognitive skill on its own: our understanding of the world around us, particularly unfamiliar terrain, is shaped by what we already know, or what we are well acquainted with. When we travel to foreign lands, our observations are often filtered through a Singaporean lens, where “Oh, it’s so messy here” or “They are really laidback here” is always already a reflection of our own experience back home. Like in Yap’s “2 mothers”, comparison can be used to confirm our own understanding of our context (i.e. Singapore) and affirm ourselves (i.e. my son is better than your son). The same would surely apply to the Sony/Microsoft, DC/Marvel, Samsung/Apple fanboy wars.

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I Smell a Bat

Now that the curtains have been unveiled, we are free to welcome Mr. Ian Tan into the team! Check out his excellent “How to Read a Poem” series on YouTube, which should prove very useful to your grasp of the unseen for H2 Paper 3 and poetry comparison in H2 Paper 1. Read on for a few more selections from Mr. Tan’s series

Richard Wilbur

Mind in its purest play is like some bat
That beats about in caverns all alone,
Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

It has no need to falter or explore;
Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
And so may weave and flitter, dip and soar
In perfect courses through the blackest air.

And has this simile a like perfection?
The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
That in the very happiest of intellection
A graceful error may correct the cave.

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Chapter One

Before we all ride into the sunset and bring 2017 to a close, I thought I’d kickstart our reading of Pride and Prejudice with a detailed analysis of Volume I Chapter I that lays the ground for our future study of Austen’s narrator, characters and the overlapping concerns of the text.

Beginnings are important, because they set up the reader’s expectations and illuminate the chapters that follow.

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