Revision Exhibit: Essay 1

Butz’s POV:
On the ground, looking up at them. Aldo has just carved the swastika, and he’s holding the bloody knife, all the Basterds crowd around to admire his handiwork.
Sgt. Donowitz: You know, Lieutenant, you’re getting pretty good at that.
Lt. Aldo: You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, don’t cha? Practice.

This swastika-carving scene from Inglourious Basterds, in my opinion, entails the process of writing. As Lt. Aldo Raine says, practice makes perfect — that’s how you get to Carnegie Hall. This class has taught me that discipline and consistency is what will attribute to a good writer. Constantly writing journals and reading are the keys to better writing.

Nevertheless, through the process of writing, I’ve come to the realization that despite how detached two ideas may be, there is always a connection between the two. This idea is the concept of six degrees of separation. Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from another person or thing in the world. [1] This idea was key in my process of writing as you will see in the revision exhibit.

Here is a passage from my first essay before the revision:

The context of Ezekiel 25:17 is about the Philistines attempt to destroy the city of Judah which results in God acting against them and punishing them. However the key difference between the real quotation and the misquotation of Ezekiel 25:17 is the involvement of the shepherd which the original passage lacks. In Jules’s rendition of the passage, Tarantino spins off of Sonny Chiba’s speech from Karate Kiba in order to implement a sense of righteousness within Pulp Fiction. Rather than killing the Philistines, or the weak ones in Pulp Fiction, why not guide them to be better people? Tarantino wants to convey that this film isn’t about two hitmen mindlessly blowing people’s brains out; there’s more to it. Tarantino uses Jules to deviate from the original interpretation of Ezekiel 25:17 in order to stress that there are others way of ridding the world of evil. The incorporation of “the shepherd that guides the weak through the darkness” implements a factor of repentance to demonstrate that one can be reprieved and start anew despite their previous wrong-doings. Tarantino’s purpose in doing so is to highlight the discrepancy between the bible’s passage of Ezekiel 23:17 and Tarantino’s rendition in order to accentuate Jules’s progressive development in his morality as his transcends from “the tyranny of evil to men” to being “the shepherd”.

It is evident that my ideas are there — just not developed yet. In the paragraph above, I didn’t write with depth. Instead of showing my readers how Jules became a more morally developed character, I only tell them which contributes to a lack of cohesiveness. In addition, now that I read the passage again, I see some logical fallacy in my writing. It’s unclear as to how Ezekiel 23:17 changes Jules — there’s a missing piece to this. This lack of coherent writing is attributed to my novice writing abilities at the beginning of the semester. I was nowhere near the Georgia Theatre at this point, let alone being able to reach Carnegie Hall.

Here is the revision of the same passage:

Ezekiel 25:17 is about the Philistines attempt to destroy the city of Judah which results in God banishing them to Babylonia. However, the key difference between the real quotation and the Tarantino version of Ezekiel 25:17 is the involvement of the shepherd which the original passage lacks. In Jules’s rendition of the passage, Tarantino spins off of Sonny Chiba’s speech from Karate Kiba in order to implement a sense of righteousness within Pulp Fiction. Rather than killing people like Ringo in Pulp Fiction, let’s guide them to be better people of society. Tarantino uses Jules to deviate from the original interpretation of Ezekiel 25:17 in order to stress that there are others way of ridding the world of evil — conveying that this film isn’t about two hitmen mindlessly blowing people’s brains out.
In David Carradine’s television series Kung Fu, the series uses many aphorisms derived from Tao Te Ching — an ancient book of Taoist philosophy. Taoism is a philosophical tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with Tao — the principle laid down by heaven to assist mankind back onto the righteous path. Tarantino’s ingenious ploy to embed this element of Taoism in Samuel L. Jackson’s dialogue adds an ulterior rationale for Jules’ change in character. We first see Jules as a hotheaded thug, however Jules gradually changes during the course of the film. In short, Tarantino’s rendition of Ezekiel 23:17 intertwined with Taoist principles from Caine from Kung Fu accentuates Jules’s progressive development in his morality as the element of Tao leads him to the righteous path.

Essays are like non-linear films — particularly that of Tarantino’s. Tarantino loves to use nonlinear timelines in all of his movies, using different characters in each scene. Although some characters never even cross paths with one another in the movie, they are somehow still connected via another character acting as a medium between the two (i.e. Butch Coolidge is connected to Vincent Vega via Marcellus Wallace). This connection between two characters who have never met each is how I approached trying to find a link between the Ezekiel 25:17 passage and kung-fu.

The first time I sat down and wrote this essay, I forgot about a key line from Samuel L. Jackson’s script. I failed to notice Jules’ dialogue about Caine from Kung Fu. This small detail was important since it was the missing puzzle piece that I needed to draw the connection between kung-fu and the Bible. As a result, it demonstrates how morality and righteousness connect two dissimilar ideas such as kung-fu and the bible. The Taoist principles that are prevalent in Kung Fu combined with Ezekiel 23:17 ties the ideas of the bible and kung-fu under the bigger idea of morality.

With that said, I believe that these small details in the films that I overlooked were crucial to the revision process. These small details could have been anything — screenplay cuts, cinematography, and even the actor’s choice of clothing. These small details allowed me to create new connections in both my first and second essays. The fine details are embedded in all of Tarantino’s films all have some sort of relevance which I was able to make sense of in my writing process.

Overall, the concept of six degrees of separation states that everyone and everything is connected in some way, shape, or form. The process of revision and writing is about finding these missing steps and connecting the two ideas.

References

[1] Barabási, Albert-László. 2003. Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life. New York: Plume.

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