Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading Period 5: October 6 - 12: Thailand / Myanmar

In Imperial Russia, everything comes in threes. 
Class meeting: October 12
Due Date: October 11, 7pm

Long Read:

The Brothers Karamazov, Books 9 & 10

Short Read:

"On my Way to See the Buddha" by Willard van de Bogart. This is a personal essay written by an American about visiting a rural shrine in Thailand that combines Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He includes descriptions of local village life and a lot of interesting illustrations.


"Mandalay" by Rudyard Kipling (more about Rudyard Kipling)
"Chin" by Mya Kabyar (more about Mya Kabyar)

Creative Assignment:

As requested, here is your knot-tying creative assignment option! First, watch this video on Chinese decorative knot tying:

Extending our knot-tying activity from Monday's class, use your extra paracord to tie two more knots, chosen from this list:

Emperor's Snake Knot
Double Coin Knot
Dragonfly Knot
Monkey Fist


Thai cuisine is enormously popular in this country. Read this page about the history and characteristics of Thai food, and then try at least one of the recipes on the page. Document your efforts with photographs and write up a commentary on the cooking process and the end result.


We talked in class about the fable of the onion and the quote: "I may be wicked, but still I gave an onion." Lots of people have used this and other quotes from The Brothers Karamazov to inspire tattoo designs. Choose a famous quote from the book and create a tattoo for yourself based on it. You can use part or all of one of these quotes or choose another:

"In sorrow, seek happiness."
"I may be wicked, but still I gave an onion."
"Above all, don't lie to yourself."
"You are trying to save me."
"Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible."
"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams."
"Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it."
"Everything passes; only truth remains."
"Forgive me for my love, for ruining you with my love."

Writing Assignment:

In book 9 chapter 9, the police captain tells Dmitri Karamazov, "We are all ready to recognize that you are, at bottom, a man of honor, but alas, one who has been carried away by certain passions to a somewhat excessive degree." In our society, we have always dealt less harshly with someone who has been "carried away by certain passions" than we have with people who have dispassionately plotted a crime. Write a short essay (300 words) in which you explain the legal difference between a "crime of passion" and a crime that is "premeditated." Use examples to illustrate your point. In your essay, explain why it's possible to forgive the first and punish the second, and say whether you think that is fair, if the crime is the same. If someone murders their father on impulse, and another person plans and plots the murder, the father is still dead. Should they be treated differently?


Over the last 100 years, several different proposals have been put forward for creating a canal through Thailand's isthmus, to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea. Do some research on this topic (you can start here) and write a short essay (300 words) introducing the topic and then outlining at least three possible effects of such a canal. You can talk about positive and negative effects. Think about the structure of your essay before you begin, and start a new paragraph when you talk about a different effect. Your conclusion should mention why you think the project has been talked about for hundreds of years but never goes anywhere. Bonus points for comparing this situation with the one in Panama, which we discussed last semester.


Book 9
1. What two people does Pyotr Ilyich Perkotin question about Mitya's actions?
2. What (possible) murder weapon was found on the garden path?
3. Mitya receives good news for which he says he has prayed all night. What is it?
4. Although he is mostly very forthcoming with his testimony, what info does Mitya say he must withhold from the police?
5. Why does Mitya say the murderer is NOT Smerdyakov?
"Thanks for reading my novel." --FD
6. Why does Mitya say the murderer IS Smerdyakov?
7. Mitya has an explanation for why he was so broke earlier in the day and so flush with money in th evening. So where did he get the money he was spending so excessively in Mokroye?
8. Witnesses against Mitya are examined in his presence. Who is the last witness to be questioned?
9. When Mitya is being carted away, who does he ask for forgiveness, and what do they answer?

Book 10
1. What bet did Kolya Kossotkin take at the railway station, that established him as a desperate character?
2. Why does Kolya have to wait for Agafya to return before he can go out?
3. When Kolya asks the peasant for forgiveness, what does the peasant say?
4. Why does Ilusha feel guilty about the dog named Zhutchka?
5. What secret has Kolya been keeping about his dog Perezvon.
6. What does Kolya admit is the reason he didn't come to se Ilusha sooner?
7. What is the doctor's prediction for Ilusha?


  1. It occurs to me that one could easily ask questions or provide advice through the comments on this blog post, but nobody does...

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